A recently enacted federal bill will impose severe tax restrictions on big game hunters for donated trophy mounts. Sportsmen stand to lose additional economic incentives if the federal wildlife agency enacts other regulations for trophy hunting reform.
The challenges that face international big game hunters have led the USSA to organize the International Hunters’ Rights Campaign. It was formed to ease the heavy-handed treatment that U.S. hunters have faced at the hands of the federal government. Partners in the campaign to date include Conservation Force and The Hunting Report. Virtually all other organizations representing international big game hunters have been invited to join, as well.
According to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, hunters who donate their trophies to museums or educational institutions may only deduct either the market value of a trophy, or the cost of taxidermy, whichever is least expensive. The Act prohibits sportsmen from deducting the cost of safaris and hunting trips during which the trophy is obtained.
“There is no good reason that Congress has singled out and penalized sportsmen who provide animal exhibits for educational purposes,” said U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) Sr. Vice President Rick Story. “The donation of wild animal mounts to a wildlife exhibit is just like a donation of artwork to a museum.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, stuck the tax revision into the unrelated pension bill. The bill was signed by President Bush on Aug. 17.
These tax changes are absurd, but the trouble doesn’t stop there for big game hunters. The International Hunters’ Rights Campaign is working to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from slashing tax deductions even further via regulatory proposals.
The USFWS has proposed that, in certain instances, if a trophy is donated to a museum or other educational institution the donor may not deduct the value of the item from his or her taxes.
“Tax policy should be left to the IRS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should focus on wildlife issues,” said Story. “That being said, there is no evidence of adverse impacts on any species or population in the world as the result of offering tax deductions for donated taxidermy.”
However, an adverse effect on conservation education in the United States and conservation programs in range states is foreseeable if economic incentives are eliminated.
The USFWS proposal comes as the agency works on regulation reform for CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
To get involved in the International Hunters’ Rights Campaign, contact the USSA at (614) 888-4868 or email@example.com.
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