Three bipartisan bills sponsored by U.S. Senator Steve Daines passed out of the Senate Finance Committee. These bills are important for Montanans, according to Senator Daines.

Putting First Responders First Act” 

Daines’ bipartisan “Putting First Responders First Act” would change the current tax code to ensure first responders never again have to pay taxes on injury-related compensation when hurt in the line of duty.

“Montana’s first responders sacrifice every day to protect our families and communities—these heroes should never have to worry about burdensome taxes and audits after suffering injuries in the line of duty. I’m glad to see this bipartisan bill one step closer to becoming law and will keep fighting for our first responders,” Daines said.

This bill was inspired by inspired by the story of the now retired Billings police officer, Ladd Paulson. In 2002, Mr. Paulson was hit by an impaired driver while he was conducting a routine traffic stop on his motorcycle. He survived the near-death experience, but was left with severe injuries. After the accident, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audited Mr. Paulson for five years in a row after he did not file taxes on treatment for his injuries. 

Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act” 

Daines proposed his “Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act” to stop the abuse of conservation easements, root out bad actors, save taxpayers billions of dollars and promote conservation. The bill will also pay for the tax cuts within the “Putting First Responders First Act.” 

“My bipartisan bill stops tax-cheats from taking advantage of the conservation easement program which would save taxpayers billions of dollars and promote conservation,” Daines said. 

“Today we passed my bill to support law enforcement and it’s paid for by going after law breakers. It’s a win-win if you ask me,” Daines continued.

At a Finance Committee hearing last year, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig stated that 28,000 syndicated conservation easement cases are under examination, and that the IRS believes $21 billion in syndicated conservation easement deductions were improper. This has occurred even with increased enforcement by the IRS, which is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per case.

The “Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act,” which tracks an IRS Listing Notice published in December 2016, would generally disallow a charitable deduction if it exceeds 2.5 times (250%) of a partner’s original investment. The bill preserves this deduction for people with true charity and conservation in mind, including for family farms and ranches. 

Daines said in an op-ed, “Taxpayers can and should take advantage of policies that legally lower their tax burden. But creating retail tax shelters, engaging in tax fraud, filing false returns, or committing wire fraud and other crimes cannot be tolerated.”

The amendment was adopted by a final vote of 23-5.

Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act” 

Daines’ “Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act,” which would help Montanans track their retirement accounts as they move between jobs, was also included in the final package that passed the Finance Committee today.

“It’s hard enough to build a comfortable savings under the inflation crisis that President Biden has created without the added stress of keeping up with past accounts. I’ll keep working to ensure Montanans and folks across the country have access to their hard-earned savings and can prepare for a worry-free retirement,” Daines said. 

The bill would establish a Retirement Savings Lost and Found, a searchable online database of all information regarding individuals lost retirement accounts. Plans would transfer small lost accounts worth $1,000 or less to the Treasury, which would manage the database. Workers are switching jobs more frequently than ever, which has resulted in an increasing number of individuals losing track of retirement accounts from prior employers. This bill would take a major step toward reuniting individuals with their lost retirement accounts. 

The bills were passed out of the Finance Committee within the “Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act.”