Land Trust Alliance Testifies Against Federal Tax Change

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‘This is not a story of the rich getting richer or people avoiding payment of taxes’

This is about providing incentives to allow cash-strapped Americans across our nation to do the right thing: Protect our lands, our wildlife, our waters and our ways of life.

The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, testified today against a proposed federal tax change that would harm conservation.

The IRS and U.S. Treasury Department are considering significantly reducing deductions available to people who donate to charitable organizations and then receive state or local tax credits. This includes the donation of conservation easements and land. These reductions would eliminate — or substantially shrink — an important incentive for donors and would slow the rate of land conservation.

Andrew Bowman, the Alliance’s president, said during a public hearing on the proposed State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction rule that the change is “too sweeping” and works “quite contrary to the intent of Congress.”

“Without the ability to utilize a state tax credit in combination with the federal tax deduction, financial pressures may force landowners to sell lands with important conservation values to raise funds,” he said in prepared remarks. “As such, the outcome of limiting incentives for landowners to permanently dedicate their land as open space or a working farm or ranch will likely be the loss of farm and ranch lands, wildlife refuges, forests and other remarkable places that otherwise might be conserved.”

Bowman urged the IRS and U.S Treasury Department officials at today’s hearing to withdraw the proposed rule. Alternatively, he said the IRS should exempt truly charitable donations, as exemplified by conservation gifts. A final rule decision is expected by year’s end.

“This is not a story of the rich getting richer or people avoiding payment of taxes due to the federal government,” he said. “This is about providing incentives to allow cash-strapped Americans across our nation to do the right thing: Protect our lands, our wildlife, our waters and our ways of life.”

A full copy of Bowman’s prepared remarks is available at http://s3.amazonaws.com/landtrustalliance.org/IRS-testimony-Andrew-Bowman-11-5-18.pdf. Additional information about the proposed SALT deduction change is available at http://www.landtrustalliance.org.

Public comments on the proposed change were due Oct. 11. Working with The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land, the Alliance submitted extensive comments in advance of that deadline. Those comments are available at http://s3.amazonaws.com/landtrustalliance.org/AllianceCommentsSALTSept2018.pdf.

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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