Several prominent businessmen in Rome are facing serious consequences after the U.S. Senate asked to speak with them regarding conservation easement transactions.

In total, 14 people have been named by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to give additional information in what they believe are people who are “gaming the tax code”.

At this point no one is stating that anything illegal has occurred or law have been broken, but the committee is looking into “inflated appraisals of property” that led to “inflated charitable deductions that are then split among taxpayers”.

The IRS has been looking into what appears to be people selling land to taxpayers for large tax deductions.  The taxpayer would then get inflated appraisals for that property and then be grated a conservation easement on the land, which resulted in charitable deductions that are then split among the taxpayers.

According to a Senate Finance Committee release: Media release: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today launched an investigation into the potential abuse of syndicated conservation easement transactions, which may have allowed some taxpayers to profit from gaming the tax code and deprived the federal government of billions of dollars in revenue.

The letters were sent to John Steven Bush, Matthew Campbell, Andrew Kyle Carney, Thomas Jason Free, James Freeman, Christopher Graham, Bryan Kelley, Aaron J. Kowan, Robert McCullough, Matt Ornstein, Eugene “Chip” Pearson, Jr., Mark Pickett, Ricky Novak and Frank Schuler on March 27. The letters requested information about companies the men may or may not have had involvement with.

https://www.propublica.org/article/conservation-easements-the-billion-dollar-loophole