The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, today welcomed reintroduction in Congress of the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. The following statement can be attributed to Andrew Bowman, president & CEO of the Land Trust Alliance:
“On behalf of the Land Trust Alliance and its nearly 1,000 member land trusts, I thank Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Steve Daines of Montana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Chuck Grassley of Iowa along with Reps. Mike Thompson of California and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania for reintroducing the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. The time has come to safeguard taxpayers and ensure the continued viability and integrity of this successful program. Congress must pass the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act this year.
“Lobbyists working against the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act claim it would hinder land conservation. But even a cursory examination of the facts shows this is patently false. Each year, approximately 2,000 to 2,500 conservation donations are made by landowners for truly charitable purposes. Such donations total about $1 billion in claimed deductions per year. That stands in sharp contrast with the $9.2 billion claimed by 296 entities – bad actors gaming the system through abusive transactions – in 2018 alone. If these bad actors are allowed to continue, their actions could destroy a longstanding and successful program. It is these bad actors, not this good legislation, that stand to hinder land conservation. Passing the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act will safeguard the taxpaying public while ensuring the incentive for land conservation remains available for landowners acting with true charitable intent.
“Additionally, lobbyists have claimed the effective date of the bill is retroactive. But that’s a disingenuous argument. The effective date of the legislation is the actual date the IRS placed these bad actors on notice and told them to halt their abusive transactions. Maintaining the effective date will ensure that funds taken from taxpayers and pocketed by these bad actors will be returned. Any attempts to shift the effective date are de facto attempts to protect the massive profiteering these bad actors have enjoyed.”
More information about this issue is available at https://www.landtrustalliance.org/charitable-conservation-easement-program-integrity-act-advocate-toolkit.
About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents nearly 1,000 member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.