01.17.19

Daines Introduces Bipartisan Bill to End Abuse of Conservation Easement Tax Incentive

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines (MT) today introduced the bipartisan Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act of 2019, a bill that would curb abuses of the popular conservation easement tax benefit while allowing it to continue to serve as an important tool for conserving land and protecting family farms and ranches. 

“The conservation easement tax incentive is meant to help conserve land and protect family farms, not be used as a tax shelter,” Daines said. “This bill makes several important changes to the tax incentive that will help curb abuses and make sure that the program remains an important conservation tool.”

The bill limits qualifying conservations contributions, used for tax deductions, to those transactions that do not exceed 2.5 times (250%) of the partner’s adjusted basis. The bill excludes family owned partnerships from the proposal. The IRS recently informed the Finance Committee that $20 billion has been deducted through these abusive syndicated partnerships from 2010 to 2016. This amount costs taxpayers an estimated $8 billion. 

The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI).  

Statements of support: 

Kameran L Onley Director of US Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy: “On behalf of the nearly 1 Million members of The Nature Conservancy, I thank Senators Daines and Stabenow for reintroducing the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act (S.170.) The abusive practices of a growing number of easement tax-shelter syndicators poses risk to legitimate efforts of the many philanthropic-minded easement donors and main-stream land conservation organizations working to protect the nation’s significant conservation areas. We believe that, if passed, this bill will curtail those practices to maintain the public’s confidence in the most important Federal tax-advantaged conservation tool. We urge Congress to move swiftly in enacting this bill. Thank you for your leadership on this critical issue.”

Andrew Bowman, President, Land Trust Alliance“This legislation is timely and essential. Sen. Daines and Sen. Stabenow are working together – with the support of 1,000 nonprofit land trusts across our nation – in the best tradition of sensible bipartisan cooperation to get this done. Their leadership on this issue sends a clear message that conservation easements are not to be used as tax shelters. I look forward to this bill’s passage.”

Glenn Marx, Executive Director, Montana Association of Land Trusts“The entire Montana Association of Land Trusts membership applauds Senator Daines’ and the Land Trust Alliance’s leadership and commitment toward introduction and passage of the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. From a Montana and national private land conservation perspective, this legislation is key to stopping abusive syndicated transactions while ensuring that tax incentives for land conservation remain available for landowners to help conserve open lands, family farms and ranches, wildlife habitat and so much more.” 

 Kendall Van Dyke, Managing Director, Montana Land Reliance“From a Montana private land conservation perspective, this legislation is key to stopping this abuse while ensuring that tax incentives for conservation remain available for farmers and ranchers across the state.” 

Gildo Tori, Director of Public Policy, Ducks Unlimited: “Ducks Unlimited is pleased to thank Senators Steve Daines and Debbie Stabenow for their leadership in reintroducing the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act.  The bill ensures that tax incentives for land conservation remain in place for genuine philanthropists while closing an apparent loophole that has allowed for abuse. We urge Congress to move quickly to enact this bill into law.”

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