|Senate Finance Committee passes
tax credit for those who sell land to environmental groups
February 18, 2003
By Gretchen Randall
3712 N. Broadway PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613
Issue Alert from Winningreen (A021803A)
February 18, 2003
February 5, 2003, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill (S. 256) which gives a 25% reduction in capital gains tax to property owners who sell their land to the local, state or federal government, or nonprofit groups, such as environmental organizations, for conservation purposes. Conservation purposes include preservation of land for outdoor recreation, protection of wildlife habitat, preservation of open space for scenic enjoyment of the public, for a government conservation policy, or preservation of a historic structure. The sections of the bill involved are 106 and 107.
Comment 1: Why should we encourage the sale of private property to the government when it has trouble properly maintaining that which it already owns? We should encourage the federal government to sell more of its land to individuals who take better care of it.
Comment 2: This is just a ruse to help environmental organizations acquire land which they often sell at a profit to government agencies. By taking property out of private hands we reduce the tax base for communities and endanger the funding for local schools.
Comment 3: The federal government pays about $.17 per acre to counties in PILT payments (payment in lieu of taxes) versus an average of $1.48 per acre in taxes that counties would earn if that land were privately owned. This is why more federal ownership of land will harm rural communities.
Background and links: This bill, Care Act of 2003 (S.256), was introduced by Senator Grassley (R-IA) and co-sponsored by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT).
Environment and Energy Daily reports the provision is endorsed by the Bush administration as well as the Nature Conservancy and the American Farm Bureau. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that this provision would cost $7 million the first year and $766 million in tax revenue over the next 10 years.