How You Can Help
In February 2015, bipartisan legislation to restore and make the enhanced incentive permanent was introduced in the House and Senate. The Conservation Easement Incentive Act was introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) as H.R. 641 and in the Senate by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) as S. 330. President Obama's Fiscal Year 2016 budget request also endorses making the tax incentive permanent.
Making permanent the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements has been a priority for the Alliance and the land trust community since 2006.
You can reach your senators 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, 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!
- Ask Representatives to vote for the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 641, introduced by Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
- A vote is expected the week of February 9, 2015, as part of a larger package of charitable giving incentives.
- Urge Senators to co-sponsor the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, S. 330, introduced by Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Senators interested in co-sponsoring should contact Jeremy Harrell in Heller's office or Sarah Schive in Stabenow's office.
- If they , be sure to thank them when asking for their support again.
- Remind Members and staff that conservation easements are a cost-effective, voluntary, private-sector alternative to government led conservation efforts and that this incentive makes the tax system fairer for modest-income farmers, ranchers and forest owners.
- Ask for the staffer’s email address and offer to send a on the easement incentive.
- Phone calls and in-person visits are best, but you can send a letter if you prefer. .
- Please call or write your senator or representative right away with a heartfelt thank you for co-sponsoring (and for voting "yes" for H.R. 4719 or H.R. 5806)! 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 2014 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 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? from the Montana Land Association of Land Trusts thanking Senator Tester or 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.
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 202-800-2223 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org