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

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‘Congress Clearly Must Take Action to Protect Taxpayers’

Congress clearly must take action to protect taxpayers. A solution is at their fingertips: the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance shared updated Internal Revenue Service data showing the continuing cost of abusive conservation easement tax shelters. The following statement can be attributed to Andrew Bowman, president and CEO of the Land Trust Alliance:

This new data undeniably shows the problem of abusive conservation easement tax shelters has gotten worse. We knew that tens of billions of dollars in tax deductions had been claimed since 2010. But the two most recent years for which robust data is available – 2016 and 2017 – now show almost $13 billion in claimed deductions. In 2016 alone, $6 billion was claimed; another $6.8 billion was claimed in 2017. And these $13 billion in claims came after the IRS told the bad actors to stop the abuse.

While we applaud the IRS for taking both forceful and thoughtful actions to stop these abusive deals, those actions have not turned the tide. Congress clearly must take action to protect taxpayers. A solution is at their fingertips: the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.

Our 1,000 member land trusts, along with 11 other national conservation and appraisal organizations, affirm support for the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a Republican, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California, a Democrat, and Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a Republican, 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 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 the abhorrent profiteering.

More information about this issue is available at https://www.lta.org/integrity.

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
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