10/20/2003

From: alra@governance.net
Subject: COALITION:  No  Land  Trust  Tax Deal!

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400  Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087  Fax: 360-687-2973  E-mail: alra@landrights.org or
alra@governance.net  Web Address: http://www.landrights.org 
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE  Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357  Fax: 202-543-7126  E-mail: landrightsnet@aol.com


COALITION:  No  Land  Trust  Tax Deal!


A broad coalition of 34 interest groups representing religious schools and churches, taxpayer advocates and property rights organizations have united in support of the House (HR 7) and against the Senate (S 476) version of the "Faith Based Initiative."

The group has signed a letter to the House and Senate committee chairmen with jurisdiction over the legislation, objecting to a favored status that would be granted to land trusts in the Senate version of the bill.  It reads in part:

"The Senate proposal would provide a capital gains tax reduction of 25% to sellers of land or water rights - but only if they sell to a land trust or a government agency . . . It will do virtually nothing to benefit sellers of land, since land trusts will be able to reduce their offering price versus any other potential buyer of property . . . This proposal would place faith-based institutions, such as churches, orphanages and private schools, at a comparative disadvantage in property purchases compared to land trusts and government agencies, neither of which are faith based."

The additional cost of the Senate provision is approximately $500 million.  The Land Trust Alliance is pushing for a 50% reduction, costing nearly $1 billion.

Signers include the National Tax Limitation Committee, the American Conservative Union, the American Association of Christian Schools, the American Land Rights Association and 30 others.

Separately, the Association of Christian Schools International, joined by the National Association of Evangelicals and 18 others, signed a similar letter objecting to the "glaring inequity in the Senate version."  It asks Congress to support "charitable choice" as long as there is a "level playing field" for all charitable groups "rather than a special benefit bill for land trusts."

"Votes on this bill will be scored on our annual vote index, promised Susan Kocsis of the League of Private Property Voters, which has published its annual scorecard of Congress since 1989.



ACTION  ITEM:

Congressman Steve Pearce is circulating a letter to all members of Congress, asking them to sign it - it says that there should be NO special handouts to Land Trusts!!!

CONTACT your Congressional office - tell them to "Sign Congressman Steve Pearce's letter on HR 7 - NO  SPECIAL  DEALS  FOR  LAND  TRUSTS !!!

You can call every Congressman at (202) 225-3121.   Or use this temporary free number : (800) 648-3516.   	

Here is the letter to the Senate and House Committee Chairmen:


October 20, 2003

Honorable William Thomas
Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means
1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Charles Grassley
Chairman, Committee on Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Gentlemen,

In the upcoming conference committee on the faith based initiative, we ask you to support the House of Representatives position (HR 7) which contains no special provisions for land trusts.  We ask you to strongly oppose the Senate version (S 476) which would hand over to land trusts a new and very powerful advantage over other non-profits and the private sector.

The Senate proposal would provide a capital gains tax reduction of 25% to sellers of land or water rights - but only if they sell to a land trust or a government agency.  Land trusts are pushing for a 50% break, the cost of which to the treasury is scored by the Joint Committee on Taxation at just under a billion dollars over ten years.

We oppose this Land Trust Tax Favoritism for numerous reasons:

It will do virtually nothing to benefit sellers of land, since land trusts will be able to reduce their offering price versus any other potential buyer of property.  Any tax break benefit will be handed over to land trusts in the form of a reduced sale price.  Even worse, this proposal will likely discourage purchase offers from any parties except land trusts and government agencies, since all others will have to offer a premium price just to stay even.  With reduced competition for property, the landowner 
loses.

It will damage the economic and property tax base of many small and rural communities, in particular those already hosting significant public lands.

It is our belief that the Charitable Giving Act is intended to encourage and benefit faith-based institutions in their efforts to extend social services to the general public.  And yet incredibly, this proposal would place those very faith-based institutions, such as churches, orphanages and private schools, at a comparative disadvantage in property purchases compared to land trusts and government agencies, neither of which are faith-based.

Land trusts, which are organized as tax-exempt "non-profits," already have significant advantages over private parties in the tax code.  Some, such as the Nature Conservancy (assets $3.2 billion, annual budget $740 million) have grown into multibillion dollar multinational corporations with economic power greater than nearly any party they may compete against for property.  This additional proposed advantage tilts the playing field too far in favor of land trusts and government agencies.

This will have a negative impact on the federal budget both in terms of the tax expenditure involved and additional maintenance backlog due to adding to the federal land inventory.

There are no reforms or additional accountability being asked of land trusts or government agencies in exchange for this substantial new benefit.  For example, land trusts have resisted attempts to prohibit the practice of "flipping," or purchasing and quickly reselling, land to government agencies at a substantial profit.

We ask you to keep this legislation focused on faith based institutions.  It is inappropriate, costly and unnecessary to offer additional benefits to land trusts in this bill.

Sincerely,

Charles Cushman, Executive Director 	Paul M. Weyrich, National Chairman
American Land Rights Association 		Coalitions for America
Battle Ground, WA  				Washington, DC

Grover Norquist, President 			David A. Keene, Chairman
Americans for Tax Reform   			American Conservative Union
Washington, DC 				Alexandria, VA

John C. Holmes, Dir. of Govt. Aff. 		Susan Kocsis, Legislative Chairman
Association of Christian Schools Intl. 	League of Private Property Voters
Silver Spring, MD 				Tustin, CA

Lewis Uhler, President 			Dr. Keith Weibe, President
National Tax Limitation Committee		American Association of Christian Schools
Roseville, CA 					Chattanooga, TN

Lawrence Cirignano, Executive Director 	Carol LaGrasse, President
Catholic Alliance 				Property Rights Foundation of America
Washington, DC 				Stony Creek, NY

Myron Ebell, Dir. Intl. Environ. Studies 	James Martin, President
Competitive Enterprise Institute 		60 Plus Association
Washington, DC 				Arlington, VA

C. Preston Noell, III, President 		Rose Correira, President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc. 		Alliance for America
McLean, VA 					Quincy, CA

Tom DeWeese, President 			Henry Lamb, Exec. Vice Pres.
American Policy Center 			Environmental Conservation Organization
Warrenton, VA  				Hollow Rock, TN

Dan Clifton, Executive Director 		Donald Fife, President
American Shareholder Association 		National Assn. of Mining Districts
Washington, DC 				Apple Valley, CA

Kevin L. Kearns, President 			G B Oliver, Executive Director
U S Business and Industry Council 		Paragon Foundation
Washington, DC 				Alamorgordo, NM

Ron Pearson, President 			Patricia Callahan, President
Council for America 				Amer. Assn. of Small Property Owners
Washington, DC 				Washington, DC

Tom Randall, President 			Dan Byfield, President
Winningreen, LLC 				American Land Foundation
Chicago, IL 					Austin, TX

Harry Valentine 				Dick Welsh, President
Capitol Hill Prayer Alert 			Natl. Assn. of Reversionary Prop. Owners
Washington, DC 				Rancho Mirage, CA

Dr. Vernon Hayes				Marty McElhaney
Forest Landowners Association 		Liberty Matters, Inc.
Atlanta, GA  	 				Taylor, TX

Matt Bennett, President 			Dorothy Bartholomew, President
Treekeepers, Inc. 				People for the USA
Maryville, TN 				Lander, WY

Dick Patton, Executive Dir. 			Howard Hutchinson, Exec. Dir.
American Family Business Inst. 		Coalition of Arizona/NM Counties
Washington, DC 				Glenwood, NM

Bob Bowman, President 			Jon Reisman
Freedom Matters  				Maine Public Policy Institute
Madison, WI  					Cooper, ME


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