Conservation Fund hails passage of Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act; it also applauds fellow land trusts 'for standing tall' against opposition to stop abuse of federal tax deductions that support land donations for easements

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January 16, 2023 (press release) –

Media Statement by Larry Selzer, President & CEO, The Conservation Fund

“The Conservation Fund congratulates the sponsors, other lawmakers and key partners — particularly the Land Trust Alliance — who have made permanent the most important protection of private land conservation efforts in decades, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. I especially thank the bipartisan effort led by U.S. Senator Steve Daines and his original cosponsors, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, for getting this important conservation legislation passed as part of the year-end omnibus spending bill. I also applaud U.S. Representative Mike Thompson and U.S. Representative Mike Kelly, who sponsored the House companion bill, along with the other 12 Senate and 10 House cosponsors.

“As the leading private land conservation nonprofit in the U.S., The Conservation Fund salutes all members of Congress who supported enacting these important protections. We also applaud our fellow land trusts for standing tall against better-funded opposition to stop years of abuse. This important law will allow the critical business of private land conservation to continue in an honest and above-board manner, safeguarding a key conservation tool into the future.”

Conservation easements protect habitat and wildlife on approximately 40 million acres of privately held lands in the United States, a significant part of the solution to habitat loss and climate change. They are effective tools that allow landowners to protect their land on their terms, while still retaining the ability to own, use and control their land, sell or pass it on to heirs. Every year, private landowners donate 2,000 to 2,500 conservation easements and are rewarded with modest charitable tax deductions. These donations total about $1 billion in claimed deductions each year. Unfortunately, a small number of bad actors, through abusive syndicated conservation easement transactions, had taken advantage of both this important private land conservation program and the U.S. taxpayer by claiming billions of dollars each year on hundreds of abusive or fraudulent transactions.

The forward-looking Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act prevents future abuses by reasonably limiting conservation easement deductions. With this limit, the new law preserves this deduction for people with charitable intent and conservation in mind, including for family farms and ranches.

For more information about the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, read CNBC’s report, “Spending bill may halt abuse of tax incentives for land conservation.”

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states to protect more than 8.5 million acres of land since 1985.

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