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Land Trusts Under Attack

by Jennifer Gray

Photo Credit: Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Member Since 2016

Unfortunately, LD 727, An Act to Protect the Tax Base of Municipalities by Removing the Property Tax Exemption for Land Held for Conservation or Public Access Purposes, will be subject to a floor debate soon. The Taxation Committee voted 8-5 against the bill.

Action:  Please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose LDs 727 and 1521.

  • LD 727 changes the law to eliminate the property tax exemption for organizations that hold land primarily for conservation or public access purposes effective April 1, 2018.
  • Part A of LD 1521 (An Act to Amend the Property Tax Laws) eliminates the property tax exemption for land trusts and adds requirements for land trusts seeking to put their land in the open space current use tax program.
  • These bills impact all nonprofits. Should these bills pass, they will make it much easier in the future to impose property taxes and other fees on all nonprofits.
  • The Legislature will vote on LD 727 soon.  The Taxation Committee is holding a public hearing and work session on LD 1521 this week, on Tuesday at 2 p.m. (hearing) and Thursday at 1 p.m. (work session).

Key Messages for Your Advocacy

  • If passed, these bills would have a negative impact on nonprofits holding land for conservation and public access purposes.  These organizations are part of the nonprofit community that plays a very important role in Maine’s economy.
  • Municipalities provide important services, such as fire and police protection, sanitation services, and general infrastructure, to their communities.  Nonprofits also provide important services, such as job training, housing, mental health services, transportation, conservation, and other enrichment opportunities, to municipalities.
  • Land trusts conserve and protect the natural resources that are a cornerstone of Maine’s economy and quality of life.  They can also foster innovation, community engagement and entrepreneurship.
  • Nonprofits earn their tax exemptions every day by dedicating themselves to the public good, reducing the burdens of government and offsetting expenditures that would otherwise be made from tax revenues, and by giving up profits, privacy, and politics in pursuit of their missions.
  • Many land trusts, as well as many other nonprofits in Maine, already pay for governmental services by way of voluntarily making payments in lieu of taxes to support municipal services.  Additionally, many land trusts pay forest excise taxes, which covers fire protection costs in their municipalities.
  • Land trusts provides many public services that government would otherwise provide for:
    • Opportunities for hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, picnicking, outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for our children and others, and
    • Community farmers markets and destinations which are of interest to tourism in Maine – which certainly benefit local business and is a benefit to our State.
  • The cost to taxpayers would be greater if government were to provide these services.


  • Jennifer Hutchin’s recent op-ed in the Bangor Daily News lifting up the value of the nonprofit sector.


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