Friday, January 16, 2009

Paniced municipalities blame The Nature Conservancy

Only hours after The Nature Conservancy announced that it is reacting to property tax increases by refusing to pay them, local governments are responding by warning of the coming financial problems within their communities. Municipal governments pay for schools, roads and local services through property taxes. In some municipalities The Nature Conservancy is both the largest landowner and the largest taxpayer. If they don't pay their fair share, the community can be financially devastated.

The Nature Conservancy is the world's largest real estate broker with earned revenues and cash reserves that exceed the amounts of most of the nation's largest for-profit businesses. There is no doubt that The Nature Conservancy could afford to pay its tax bill. Municipal governments do not have the legal authority to force The Nature Conservancy to pay taxes on property it owns so some people are now calling for federal legislation to force The Nature Conservancy to pay.

When private citizens and for-profit companies do not pay their real estate tax bill, the property can be seized and sold at auction in a process known as a "tax sale". This procedure does not currently apply to non-profit corporations like The Nature Conservancy. We support proposed federal legislation that would extend the same procedures to land owned by The Nature Conservancy.

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