Policy

Action Alerts

MassLand issues an Action Alert to the land trust community when legislation or a policy issue of high importance to land conservation is under consideration by the Massachusetts State Legislature. Our Action Alerts describe the policy issue under debate and who your land trust and members of your land trust may contact to voice your support or concern.

Does your land trust have a new staff or board member who would like to receive MassLand Action Alerts? Please contact us and we'll make sure he/she is included on our list.

MassLand depends on our members to contact their representative at the State House. Find your legislator here.

To view MassLand's testimony and letters of support of policy, click here

Legislative Priorities

Conservation Land Tax Credit

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: the donor receives a rebate on any income taxes due for that calendar year and receives a refund check for the difference. Land trusts often play a key role in assisting landowners throughout the donation process.

The Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) amendment would:
• Raise the annual cap of the CLTC Program from $2 million to $5 million per year (a combined total of credits for individuals and corporations) by increasing the cap $1 million/year for three years.
• Amend the definition of a "public or private conservation agency" that 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 that more than a third of land trusts in MA are organized as realty trusts).
• Provide a ten-year sunset.

For more information, click here.

Public Lands Preservation Act

The Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA) would further the long-standing goal of preventing the loss of constitutionally protected public parks, conservation land, forests, watersheds and other natural resource lands (Article 97 lands). These lands are major contributors to clean water, clean air, quality of life, recreation for people from all walks of life, habitat for our diverse species of plants and wildlife, a robust tourism industry, and a strong economy. They also play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and guarding against the impacts of climate change. For more information, click here.

Community Preservation Act

The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a smart growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities. Cities and towns that adopt CPA obtain community preservation funds from two sources - a local property tax surcharge and a yearly distribution from the statewide CPA Trust Fund. In recent years, the CPA Trust Fund has declined and has proven to be unsustainable. Therefore, the Coalition is advocating for a long term solution--an adjustment in the current funding source for the CPA Trust Fund. The Trust derives its revenue from fees collected at the Registries of Deeds across the state, but those fees have never been adjusted since CPA was signed into law by Governor Cellucci in 2000. The legislation calls for an increase to the recording fees. MassLand continues to write letters of support for this amendment to the Community Preservation Act.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes

One of the long-standing features of American law has been the principle that nonprofit charitable organizations should be exempt from taxation. In recent years, there has been discussion of this benefit being threatened. The major nonprofits include hospitals and universities, but land trusts are also included. MassLand's member land trusts would become defunct if they were required to pay taxes. MassLand, with the Coalition to Preserve Nonprofit Services, continues to advocate against legislation requiring land trusts to pay taxes for nonprofit-owned land.