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How You Can Help

Update: July 13, 2014

Congressional House leadership has scheduled a vote on July 16 or 17 on a bill to permanently enact several charitable tax incentives, including HR 2807, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act.  The bill will come to the House floor as part of a larger charities package.

The provision officially reached a bipartisan majority of the House as co-sponsors – 222 in total. However, it is important that we continue to work together to ensure its passage.  Moreover, the more bipartisan votes we secure, the better positioned we will be with the Senate.

Regardless of whether or not your Congressman or woman was a co-sponsor, please call your representative to urge him or her to vote “yes” when it comes up for a vote next Wednesday or Thursday.  You can reach your representative by calling the House switchboard at 202-225-3121.

Making permanent the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements has been a priority for the Alliance and the land trust community since 2006.  This will be the first time we’ve been able to get a vote on this on the House floor.

Let’s take full advantage of this historic opportunity.

You can reach any Member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Don't just leave a message at the front desk--as an organization representing hundreds of constituents, you should ask to speak with the staffer who handles tax issues. Make sure they know of any prior relationship your land trust has had with the office and encourage staff to think of you as a resource on conservation issues. Better yet, invite them to come visit next time they're in the district.

Fact Sheets You Can Adapt and Forward

Talking Points for Seeking Co-sponsors

Even if your senators and representative co-sponsored in previous years, we need to seek their renewed support today:

  • Introduce your organization and tell them how important this tax incentive is to conservation work in your community.
  • Tell them how the tax incentive helps family farmers, ranchers, and modest-income landowners protect their land. Share specific stories from your area!
  • Urge Representatives to vote for the charities package, which includes the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 2807, introduced by Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
  • Urge Senators to co-sponsor the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526, introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senators interested in co-sponsoring should send a signed Unanimous Consent request to the Senate floor.
  • Ask for the staffer’s email address and offer to send a fact sheet on the easement incentive.
  • Phone calls and in-person visits are best, but you can send a letter if you prefer. View advice and examples.

Talking points for Members of Congress who have already co-sponsored:

  • Please call or write your Senator or Representative right away with a heartfelt thank you for co-sponsoring! View a sample letter.
  • Tell them how this incentive allows more landowners to choose conservation in your area. Share specific examples if possible!
  • Make sure they know that the incentive expired at the end of 2013 and you're counting on them to find a way to enact this one thing both parties can agree on.
  • It’s even more important to thank them publicly! You can use our newsletter article template and sample press release to use to thank them for cosponsoring the bill!  Don’t forget to send them a copy.
  • Learn a dozen more ways to say thank you.
  • Want an example? View a letter from the Montana Land Association of Land Trusts thanking Senator Tester or read the press release sent by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy thanking Congressman Schuler.
  • Offer to take the Congressperson or their staff on a site visit to see conserved land and meet landowners. Offer to provide any information they need about conservation easements or land conservation efforts in your local area.

Next Steps

These stand-alone bills are important for demonstrating broad bipartisan support, but ultimately our success will likely depend on attaching the easement incentive to another piece of legislation (estate tax, energy bill, etc). Please check our Tax Advocates emails for the latest specific and time sensitive things you can ask your Members of Congress to do.

Your congressional office wants to hear from you, and there couldn't be a more important time to ask them for their help! You can also help by sharing our grassroots tax incentive fact sheet with your partners and individual members, urging them to weigh in with your Congressional delegation.

Questions? Call the Alliance at 202-638-4725 or e-mail policy@lta.org

Want updates? Sign Up for TaxAdvocates emails and follow @RussLTA on twitter.

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Advocates Alerts

July 10: House Vote on Conservation Tax Incentive Coming Soon

The House of Representatives will vote on the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, perhaps as early as next week. Whether you use this incentive or not, this is an unprecedented opportunity for the entire House of Representatives to vote specifically on whether or not to help land trusts. Every vote will count, and we urge you to call your congressional office and ask your representative to support H.R. 2807 when it comes to the floor – and to get as many others as possible in your land trust and its local partners to do the same.
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