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Seeking Tax Incentive Stories, Climate Bill Passes House, Kiva Case

Advocates Alert: July 1, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Congress is taking a break this week after a busy session, but it’s prime time for politicking back in the district.  You’ll find your Representatives at parades and picnics all weekend long, so this is a great time to call their district office and figure out where you can meet them.  Then simply show up, ask them to co-sponsor the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 1831), and invite them to see one of your projects in August!

Your Press Coverage Can Help Secure a Permanent Easement Incentive!

Have any of your recent conservation easements been covered in the local press?  If so, that’s great!  Your Representative’s office watches the local papers carefully, but it’s unlikely they’ll realize that federal tax incentives were involved, let alone that they can help by co-sponsoring H.R. 1831.  You need to tell them!

Please scour your archives for any press coverage of projects where the easement incentive was a factor (don’t forget your own newsletter!).  Even if the federal tax incentive wasn’t mentioned, you can help make the connection!  Our Grassroots Toolkit contains a template email for sending a press clip to your Representative’s tax staffer and asking them to co-sponsor H.R. 1831.

Haven’t gotten any recent press coverage?  Well, the Grassroots Toolkit is also full of templates for generating press coverage on the incentive!

Finally, please send your stories to us at policy@lta.org.  We’re building a comprehensive webpage of land trust success stories and would love to post anything you send us: clippings, videos, pictures, newsletter articles, releases and email testimonials--we’ll take them all weather they explicitly mention the tax incentive or not.  Please help us show that this enhanced deduction is making a difference in your state!

House Passes Climate Bill with Natural Resources Funding, Transmission Rules

The U.S. House of Representatives passed comprehensive climate change legislation last week, requiring significant cuts in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions over the next several decades.  Included in that legislation was a provision allocating major revenues to a “natural resources climate change adaptation fund” – essentially, funding to help state and federal agencies create and implement plans to protect natural resources from climate change.  A portion of that funding would also be used to increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Click here to learn more.

The bill also includes language providing for greater federal involvement in the siting of electric transmission lines in the West.  The Alliance was unsuccessful in getting recognition of lands protected by land trusts in the new planning process, but was grateful that Congressman John Dingell mentioned the need to do this before the bill is enacted into law.  Click here to read those remarks.  The climate bill now heads to the Senate.

Kiva Dunes Easement Upheld by Tax Court

The U.S. Tax Court recently upheld a well-established land trust’s conservation easement on 141 acres of Alabama coastal land, part of which included a golf course.  The easement includes significant habitat for endangered species, is a critical migratory bird flyway and buffers a federal wildlife refuge.  After oral arguments, the IRS dropped its challenges to the legal qualifications of the easement and focused on valuation.  The Tax Court upheld the easement, upheld the deduction for a stewardship endowment, and only slightly reduced the value of the donation from what the taxpayers had claimed. Click here to read the court's findings.


Important Reminder

If you receive a donation of land or a conservation easement, you must send a letter to the donor acknowledging the gift – or you put them at risk of an IRS audit! Click here for more on substantiation letters.

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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July 29, 2014 | Poughkeepsie Journal | NY

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