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House Passes One-Year Extension of the Easement Incentive

Advocates Alert: December 10, 2009

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a one-year extension of the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements, but we still have a shot at making the incentive permanent in the Senate.

House Votes to Extend Easement Incentive, Other Charitable Giving Provisions

The House passed "Tax Extenders Act of 2009," H.R. 4213 extends for one year 49 tax incentives that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year.  Eight of these provisions apply to charitable contributions or exempt organizations.  The bill extends, among other things:

  • the special incentive for donations of conservation easements (our top priority);
  • the allowance of tax-free charitable contributions from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA Charitable Rollover), and;
  • the special provision allowing S corporation shareholders to account for their pro rata share of charitable deductions even if the deductions exceed the shareholder's adjusted basis in the S corporation.


Click here for a press release from Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) celebrating the vote.  The Senate may not take this bill up before the end of the year, but it is very likely to pass a similar bill in 2010 and make whatever they renew retroactive to January 1st.

Let's Get the Senate's Attention

The Senate is still debating healthcare, but it still could pass a permanent extension of the easement incentive!  There is still a lot of interest in the Senate in passing an estate tax bill before the end of the year and a permanent extension of the easement incentive could be part of that.  In addition, both the House and Senate need to pass some other tax items before the end of the year, probably as part of the defense appropriations bill.  Every additional supporter will help conservation incentives move higher on their list of priorities.

Getting new Senate co-sponsors for S. 812 will help us get the incentive included in whichever year-end tax bill gains traction. Please see last week's alert for step-by-step instructions to seek your Senators' support.

IRS Advisory Council Criticizes Hard Line on Historic Preservation Easements

The IRS Advisory Council (IRSAC) recently issued a council-wide recommendation criticizing IRS' hard-line stance against historic preservation easements -- touching on many of the same issues that conservation easement donors have faced.  The purpose of IRSAC is to provide a public forum for IRS officials and tax professionals to discuss tax administration issues and recommend improvements to IRS operations, policies, programs and procedures.  Their report is not binding on the IRS.  Nonetheless, it may cause some re-evaluation within the IRS about its approach, and we will be working to see that it does. Click here to read the report.

IRS Issues Tips for Year-End Charitable Giving

We thought you might appreciate seeing a new IRS fact sheet providing tips for year-end gifts to charities like your land trust (or the Land Trust Alliance).  These include making a gift from your IRA and giving by credit card in 2009 even though the bill isn't paid until 2010.  This would be a great piece to post on your website or to use as a reference in drafting your year-end appeals.  See more year-end donation tips.

Thanks for Helping!

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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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