Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Friday, July 15, 2005

The IRS wants to hear from you...or does it?

The IRS is seeking comments on conservation easements, but it seems to be stacking the deck by the way it asks the questions. The request for comment is straight from the "when did you stop beating your wife?" school of questionaires.
"The IRS would like to hear from members of the public that have questions or comments about abusive transactions involving charitable contributions of easements."
Not, The IRS would like to hear your comments on the conservation easement deduction.... it focuses on abuses.
"In recognition of our need to preserve our heritage, Congress allowed an income tax deduction for owners of significant property who give up certain rights of ownership to preserve their land or buildings for future generations.
The IRS has seen abuses of this tax provision that compromise the policy Congress intended to promote. We have seen taxpayers, often encouraged by promoters and armed with questionable appraisals, take inappropriately large deductions for easements. In some cases, taxpayers claim deductions when they are not entitled to any deduction at all (for example, when taxpayers fail to comply with the law and regulations governing deductions for contributions of conservation easements)."

Want to learn more? The only additional information listed is the Testimony of Steven T. Miller on the Tax Code and Land Conservation or for a different point of view, how about Improper conservation easements (speech by Steven T. Miller)? And who is the impartial Steven T. Miller? He's the IRS Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities. Well, he'll make sure conservation easements get a positive hearing, won't he? Or if you want to hear from someone besides Mr. Miller, you can check out the news release announcing "dirty dozen" tax scams, including contributions of historic facade easements)
No stacking the deck on this one! Hey IRS, why not include some of the congressional testimony from the land trust leaders? Would that be too balanced?


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