Land Trust Alliance Statement on IRS Data Regarding Abusive Conservation Easement Tax Shelters

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'Every Day That Congress Delays Action, Taxpayers Are Being Bilked'

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Congress must act now. The time for debate has ended. Every day that Congress delays action, taxpayers are being bilked out of millions of dollars.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Internal Revenue Service data revealing the cost of abusive conservation easement tax shelters. The following statement can be attributed to Andrew Bowman, president of the Land Trust Alliance:

We know now that abusive conservation easement tax shelters are nothing more than a get-rich-quick scheme. The numbers revealed in The Wall Street Journal demonstrate the egregious extent to which a few people are profiting at the expense of honest taxpayers.

I was flabbergasted to learn that tax deductions reported to the IRS from 2010-16 totaled $230 billion. That number might change, but it is now indisputable that the problem is huge and inaction by our government is not an option. As taxpayers, we should be outraged and insist that Congress immediately pass pending bipartisan legislation to kill these abuses.

Congress must act now. The time for debate has ended. Every day that Congress delays action, taxpayers are being bilked out of millions of dollars.

We affirm today our support for the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California, a Democrat, Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a Republican, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a Republican, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a Democrat, this legislation would prevent abuse of charitable donations while keeping important incentives in place for honest philanthropy. The bill allows landowners of modest means to conserve their lands on their terms for the benefit of communities across America. It will not stand in the way of reasonable deals or partnerships put together to advance conservation. It will simply end this abhorrent profiteering.

It's past time for bold action. Congress and the IRS have all the information they need to crack down on the people behind these schemes. The Land Trust Alliance, our 1,000 land trust members and their 4.6 million supporters will be watching to see what actions our government takes to end this abuse of federal tax policies intended to encourage true charitable giving.

More information will be available at

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

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Joshua Lynsen
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