ALERT- WE NEED YOUR HELP on Conservation Land Tax Credit Amendment


ACTION ALERT

Dear Members,

Please contact your Massachusetts State Representative ASAP and ask him/her to support an amendment (filed by House Minority Leader, State Representative Bradley Jones) to the State Operating Budget which would increase the annual funds available for the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program.

All it takes is a quick call or email to their office (under five minutes). The land community needs to make contact now as legislative offices will be flooded with requests from other advocates. Contact information for your legislator (searchable by municipality) can be found here. Below is a sample call “script” and email that you can send to your State Representative (feel free to augment it with the additional information below).

Dear Representative ________: As part of a [land conservation organization] in your district, I am contacting you to ask you to co-sponsor and support an amendment to the House budget for the Conservation Land Tax Credit program filed by Representative Brad Jones, the Minority Leader. The amendment would increase the annual cap to eliminate the backlog of this successful program and enable our organization to collaborate with private landowners to conserve land for farming, forestry, wildlife and clean water.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Your Name and Org/Group [Give your home address or org address, whichever is in their district]

The amendment would:

  • Raise the annual cap of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) Program from $2 million to $5 million per year – an increase of $1 million per year for the next three years. (Please note: There is currently a $3.3 million backlog and many landowners cannot afford to wait until 2020. See list of areas with properties affected here).
  • Amend the definition of "public or private conservation agency" which may receive donations of land subject to a conservation tax credit to include realty trusts organized for conservation purposes pursuant to Chapter 203. (Please note: more than a third of land trusts in Massachusetts are organized as realty trusts).
  • Provide a ten-year sunset.

House budget debate begins the week of April 23rd, so the sooner you can make your call the more momentum we can build for the amendment!

Program Description: Launched in 2011, the CLTC program allows taxpayers (individuals and corporations) a refundable conservation land tax credit for qualified donations of certified land to a public or private conservation agency. The certification process is conducted by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) for land that is permanently protected and has significant conservation value, such as farming or forestry, wildlife protection or water quality.

Currently, the credit is subject to an annual $2 million cap and is equal to 50% of the fair market value of the qualified donation up to a maximum credit of $75,000 for each qualified donation. This is a refundable tax credit; therefore, the donor receives a check for the full amount once they complete their state taxes for the calendar year they made the donation. Land trusts often play a key role in assisting landowners throughout the donation process.

Conservation Outcomes and Efficiency:

•           The CLTC program has been used to permanently protect 12,146 acres of significant conservation land, including prime forest soils (working forests), prime agricultural soils (working farms), natural good/services (water quality protection), and land hosting habitat for rare species.

•           Each $1 of state tax credits has leveraged $4.29 of private land donated value.

Need: As of April 4, 2018, total dollars requested for 2018 and beyond are $5,034,600. Of that, $1,984,100 has been committed to 2018 projects. There remains an additional $3,330,500 in requested projects being pushed into 2019 and 2020. As the program operates on a first-come-first-served basis, any new applications received this year will not be eligible for funding until 2020, at the earliest. Many landowners cannot wait this long as they have financial needs. In addition, as this happens, the CLTC gets out of sync with other state land protection programs, which hinders the ability for municipalities, agencies, and land trusts to leverage programs to maximize outcomes. This comes at a time when there is an unprecedented transition in ownership across the Commonwealth and an enormous opportunity to conserve ecologically and economically valuable lands.

Regards,

MLTC Team
Mass Land Trust Coalition
18 Wolbach Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
(978) 443-2233