June 10,2019

Grassley, Wyden Press Subjects in Easement Investigation

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today pressed for fulsome and responsive replies to questions instead of partial answers from individuals associated with three entities in the committee’s investigation into syndicated conservation-easements transactions.
In three letters transmitted today, the Finance Committee leaders made clear that incorrectly citing inapplicable legal provisions is not a reason for noncompliance. The senators also made clear that questions need to be answered in writing, not just by referencing provided documents.
Grassley and Wyden launched the probe into syndicated conservation-easement transactions in March with fourteen letters to groups that might have unfairly profited from conservation easements.
For several years now, the IRS has been investigating these transactions. They appear to involve promoters selling interests in tracts of land to taxpayers looking for large tax deductions.  In such an arrangement, the taxpayers get inflated appraisals of those tracts of land and grant conservation easements on that land. The resulting inflated charitable deductions are then split among the taxpayers.
The three follow-up letters sent by Grassley and Wyden today can be found at the following links.