Land Trust Alliance Statement on IRS Letter Regarding Conservation Easement Tax Shelters

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'This Information Justifies and Demands Further Review'

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Land Trust Alliance logo

In the vast majority of cases, conservation easement donors are philanthropic heroes working with nonprofit land trusts that are above reproach.

In a recent letter to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, the Internal Revenue Service revealed new information regarding conservation easement tax shelters. The following statement can be attributed to Wendy Jackson, executive vice president of the Land Trust Alliance:

"Information revealed in the IRS letter is simultaneously startling and incomplete in nature. And that’s exactly why further bipartisan investigation from the Senate Finance Committee is warranted.

"It is difficult to extrapolate from this initial data the actual number of suspect transactions based purely on the number of material advisor filings, as each transaction could easily have more than one material advisor. But the preliminary data show for 40 specific transactions that happened since 2010, people bought the equivalent of $9 of tax deductions for $1, on average. It’s clear that in these instances, the deductions significantly exceeded the limit established by the IRS. These rates of return are something most taxpayers will never see in their lifetimes.

"Without question, this information justifies and demands further review. It also shows the IRS acted appropriately in issuing Notice 2017-10. Undoing the Notice at this stage would both inflict harm to taxpayers and set back the very reasonable efforts the IRS has taken to control the situation.

"This further validates the Land Trust Alliance’s longstanding concerns with these transactions and our advisory to our 1,000 members, first issued in 2015, warning them to steer clear of these deals. In the vast majority of cases, conservation easement donors are philanthropic heroes working with nonprofit land trusts that are above reproach, and we can’t let the actions of those focused on material greed undermine a program that benefits all Americans."

To obtain a copy of the letter or learn more about the Alliance’s work on these matters, contact Media Relations Manager Joshua Lynsen 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.

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Joshua Lynsen