Winooski River Footbridge by Jocelyn Hebert. Photos courtesy Green Mountain Club.
Vermont Business Magazine The following is an open letter sent to Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Legislature on Wednesday from outdoor recreation organizations regarding a change in charitable giving status found in the tax bill H911, which the governor received from the Legislature on Tuesday:
As outdoor recreation focused non-profit organizations, we are writing today to express our opposition to the cap on the charitable tax credit in H. 911, which we believe will fundamentally change the nature of charitable giving in Vermont if enacted in its current form. The proposed cap will hurt Vermont non-profits generally, and we believe it will significantly hamper the efforts of conservation and outdoor recreation focused organizations.
Most significantly, this provision in H. 911 eliminates the state charitable deduction, and substitutes a 5% tax credit with a cap of $20,000. While we understand that the bill originated as a response to changes in federal policy, the proposed cap of $20,000 would significantly limit our ability to solicit large contributions from major donors as well as gifts to capital campaigns. The cap would also create a major hurdle for the land conservation efforts that are critical to the long-term viability of trail networks and the protection of the landscape upon which Vermont’s two and a half billion dollar outdoor recreation economy depends.
Collectively, we manage and promote more than 6,700 miles of public trails throughout Vermont, along with the state’s fledgling backcountry hut system. Trails, huts, gladed ski terrain and other backcountry recreation assets have quickly become drivers of economic activity for towns across Vermont, and non-profits play an important role in building, maintaining, and promoting these resources for the public.
We hope you’ll continue to support the important work of non-profit organizations throughout Vermont. We urge you to address this critical issue in the special legislative session, and to support the continued work by non-profits to conserve land for public use, expand trail access and grow backcountry recreation by eliminating the cap on the charitable tax credit.
(In alphabetical order by organization)
Matt Williams, Executive Director, Catamount Trail Association
Mike Dubonis, Executive Director, Green Mountain Club
Abby Long, Executive Director, Kingdom Trails Association
Russell Hirschler, Executive Director, Upper Valley Trails Alliance
Cindy Locke, Executive Director, Vermont Association of Snow Travelers
RJ Thompson, Executive Director, Vermont Huts Association
Tom Stuessy, Executive Director, Vermont Mountain Bike Association