WASHINGTON, April 8, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, will push this week on Capitol Hill for an end to federal conservation tax benefit abuse during Land Trust Alliance Advocacy Days.
Starting April 8, an expected 115 land trust professionals from 34 states will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers, staff and agencies in nearly 200 meetings. These meetings will focus on the bipartisan Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, S. 170 and H.R. 1992, which would eliminate the ability to profit from the donation of a conservation easement on land held for a short period of time.
"The brazen abuse of the federal tax incentive that enables landowners to permanently conserve their properties has cost taxpayers billions of dollars," said Andrew Bowman, the Alliance's president. "Congress has the opportunity to halt this abuse by passing the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act ? and the time to act is now. We must stop the abuse by a few bad actors and ensure tax incentives for land conservation remain available to genuine philanthropists who want to conservation the lands they love."
Advocacy Days comes at a moment when Capitol Hill is increasingly focused on conservation tax benefit abuse.
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) announced last month a probe that aims to shine a bright light on abusive transactions that disguise a profitable tax shelter as a charitable donation. That probe came just days after the Internal Revenue Service named such transactions on its "dirty dozen" list of tax scams to avoid. And in December, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against promotors of an allegedly abusive conservation easement syndication tax scheme.
The Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, which is carefully targeted to strike at the heart of abusive transactions, would effectively address the problem. It makes clear that conservation easement donations, like other charitable donations, are not intended to be profit opportunities.
Other priorities land trust professionals will discuss in their Capitol Hill meetings include renewing the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and implementation of the most recent Farm Bill.
Land Trust Alliance Advocacy Days runs April 8-10. Scheduled speakers include Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a Democrat, chair of the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry; Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia, a Republican, who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee; the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting Associate Chief Kevin Norton; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director of Operations Jim Kurth.
For more information about Advocacy Days, including a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.landtrustalliance.org/issues-action/tools-tips/advocacy-days. Media wishing to interview Alliance principals or other event participants should contact Joshua Lynsen, the Alliance's media relations manager, at jlynsen(at)lta.org or 202-800-2239.
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 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 http://www.landtrustalliance.org.
SOURCE Land Trust Alliance
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