Land trusts across the country have been asking me, “Will the incentive be renewed before the end of the year?” As the clock ticks closer to the December 31 expiration, the Alliance has invested significant resources to keep the incentive alive. If any legislation moves – and there are several things already in the works – we want to be on it, so that you can continue to use the enhanced easement donation incentive in 2014 and beyond.
The temperature is changing here. The government shutdown and the public’s reaction to it have put everyone on notice that there’s a political price for not getting common-sense things done – and that’s good for us. Las Vegas would say the odds of renewal before New Years are less than 50-50, but if you were at Rally you might have heard me bet Steve Small that we’d get it done.
Where could this turn up? It could be stuck into the Farm Bill, where a House-Senate conference is hard at work trying to renew farm programs before January 1; or a budget bill the House and Senate are crafting to try to stop the looming big cuts in defense spending that will begin on January 15.
The Alliance has retained the services of Capital Tax Partners, a bipartisan lobbying firm, to work with us on this, and we have also brought on North Bridge Communications, a D.C.-based public relations firm. We think this investment makes sense, because having the incentive could mean 300,000 acres more being conserved in 2014.
You can help! Leaders on Capitol Hill need to know that this incentive matters, and seeing their colleagues co-sponsor bills to make the incentive permanent provides a strong case to move the legislation forward. Call your Member of Congress. Thank them if they are co-sponsors, and tell them you are worried about the effect of the incentive’s expiration on your conservation work next year. If they aren’t cosponsors, ask them!
If they say they are waiting on tax reform legislation, remind them that Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) gave Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-MI) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) permission to introduce this bill as something that would not interfere with tax reform.
Unfortunately, much misunderstanding still remains about conservation easements. Bloomberg News published a largely negative article this week on the incentive that overlooks conservation easements’ benefits to conservation. Please see our website for our statement responding to the factual errors and omissions in the article. If Congressional staff ask for more details, please give me a call and we’d be happy to respond in detail.
Thanks to everyone for all your help.
P.S. – This email list is for land trust leaders that are interested in tax incentives for conservation. Please let me know if there others at your organization or its partners who would like to subscribe.
Russell ShayDirector of Public Policy | Land Trust Alliance
1660 L Street, NW Suite
1100Washington, D.C. 20036
202-800-2230 | Email