Right to conserve - Edited March 10, 2005 11:28 AM
Right to Conserve Under Attack Wednesday, 2:47 PM
Please sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/196850059
The stated goal: Reducing loopholes and tax fraud.
The proposed solution: Reducing deductibility for non-cash donations - making only 1/3 of the value deductible
The Problem: Such changes in tax law will make it IMPOSSIBLE for many people to make conservation easement donations to land conservation organizations. These folks want to preserve their community by making sure there will always be open space, but cannot afford to do so without the deductibility. Unless these folks can conserve their land, it is possible their heirs will not be able to afford the estate taxes, and will be FORCED to sell the land off for development. Resulting in more sprawl, more habitat and open space loss, reducing the beautiful vistas that make our community special
The solution: People need to get involved, call their congressmen and senators, contact www.nblt.org (call 696 5545) and/or financially support the effort. More info can be found at www.nblt.org or (for media use) www.lta.org.
Joint Committee Proposes Slashing Conservation Incentives
A recent report by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation recommends dismantling tax deductions for landowners who volunteer to conserve their land—a program that has been essential to private and public conservation efforts.
Those tax incentives, in place for more than 25 years, have led to voluntary conservation of more than 34 million acres of working agricultural lands, working forests, wildlife habitats, historic landscapes, and parklands.
Currently, landowners who care about conservation and are willing to protect important resources on their property have several options:
∑ They can donate a conservation easement, which protects these resources forever, but allows families to continue to live on and farm the land, and pass the property on to their heirs. Now, they receive a tax deduction for the value of the development rights they give up.
The Joint Committee proposes: (1) forbidding any deduction for donating an easement if the landowner continues to live on the land; and (2) in all other cases, allowing the donor to deduct only 1/3 the value of their donation. This would effectively eliminate the tax incentives for donations of conservation easements.
∑ They can also choose to donate their land, or sell it for less than its value. Landowners who do so qualify for a tax deduction.
The Joint Committee would slash this incentive, by limiting deductions to the price the landowner originally paid for the property (their "basis"). This would make it extremely difficult for farmers, ranchers, and other residents who have owned their lands for decades to be able to afford to donate.
At a time when development and sprawl threaten much of what makes our communities livable—clean air and water, open space, parks, and wildlife habitat—private landowners have a critical role to play in conservation. With state and federal budget deficits limiting government purchase of conservation land, one of the best ways to conserve America’s natural legacy is through incentives to private landowners. This approach is working because it encourages voluntary charitable gifts, respects private property rights, and keeps land on the tax rolls.
Conservationists support reforms targeted to prevent abuse of the existing laws. The proposals of the Joint Tax Committee don’t do that – instead, they punish all donors, fail to identify abusers, and wreak havoc with private, voluntary conservation, at a time when it is needed more than ever.
[ send green star]