Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TNC sparks tax battle in Wisconsin

The Nature Conservancy notified Sauk County Wisconsin officials that the organization would no longer be paying taxes on 9,000 acres located in several parcels. TNC also announced that it was eliminating two local jobs due to financial difficulties. The change will be devastating to some local towns. An official for one of the towns affected said they would lose more than 50% of their tax revenue used to provide municipal services. The Nature Conservancy proposes making voluntary payments totaling about half of the former tax bill to help make up for the shortfall.
Other than the federal government, The Nature Conservancy is the only landowner with property in all 50 states that is exempt from income taxes and can also stipulate that it will not pay local property taxes. One of the Wisconsin municipal officials is quoted as saying "When they purchased that property, they said they were going to be good residents of the municipalities and they were going to pay property taxes," said supervisor Paul Endres of North Freedom. "If they aren't going to pay property taxes, they should sell the property."
According to the most recent financial filings, The Nature Conservancy had 1.4 billion in revenue and only $900 million in expenses. As a tax-exempt entity, the $500 million net revenue is also exempt from income tax.

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