FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2009
SCHUMER: TAX DEDUCTION FOR HUNTERS WHO DONATE GAME IS A WIN-WIN-WIN; WILL SAVE HUNTERS MONEY, FIGHT DEER OVERPOPULATION IN MOHAWK VALLEY AND HELP FEED THE HUNGRY
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced his legislation providing a tax benefit to hunters who donate their processed venison to anti-hunger programs. Schumer’s legislation will allow hunters to take a tax deduction for the cost of processing their venison, when the final product is donated. The legislation will also provide a tax benefit to processors who participate in venison donation programs by making all processing income they receive from charities – or the state – tax exempt. Schumer said that this is a critical measure because the traditional venison donation programs have seen their funding levels decimated in recent years, and, in turn, the amount of venison donated has declined.
“The hunting, fishing and outdoor sporting industry is a bright spot in a dark economic time – and one that must be protected and allowed to grow,” said Schumer. “This legislation will provide hunters with an economic boost, combat overpopulation of deer and help the hungry all at the same time.”
Schumer’s legislation creates a tax deduction for a hunter that pays to process venison that will eventually be given to a feeding program. This simply means that if a hunter spends $65 processing the meat, he or she will be able to deduct that amount from his or her taxable income. The legislation also makes tax exempt any income received by a processor from a not-for-profit. Therefore, if a hunter were to bring in a deer to be processed and donated, and a tax exempt entity paid the processing fee, the processor would not have to pay taxes on that income. This would allow the charity’s dollars to go further because the processor could be reimbursed at a lower rate and still achieve the same after-tax income. This would allow more venison to go to charity per dollar, and allow more processors to take part.
Organizations, such as the Venison Donation Coalition, pay to process game that hunters bring to designated processors, so long as the final product is donated to a feeding program. Schumer said that these organizations are being stretched to the brink and are starved of funding. Up until 2 years ago the Venison Donation Coalition was funded by the state at $100,000 per year, last year it was funded at $75,000, and this year it was funded at $21,000. Donations have also dropped precipitously during the recession. Schumer’s legislation would help these organizations stretch every dollar further, and would also allow hunters to realize benefits even if they wanted to have donated meat processed at another facility.
Here is an example of how an organization like the Venison Donation Coalition would see a benefit Schumer’s legislation: A hunter brings a deer for processing to Joe’s Processing Center, with the intention of donating the venison to a feeding program. Under current law, the Venison Donation Coalition could pay the $65 processing fee to Joe’s Processing Center, and Joe’s, in turn would pay $10 of that in taxes to the government. Under Schumer’s bill, Joe’s wouldn’t have to pay the $10 in taxes, so the Venison Donation Coalition could pay Joe’s $55 instead. Joe would see the same end result from the transaction (a post-tax gain of $55), and the Venison Donation Coalition would have saved $10.
Schumer’s legislation would particularly benefit hunters in New York State where deer hunting is one of the most popular sporting opportunities and a critical component of the state’s economy and well being. Nearly 700,000 New Yorkers and over 50,000 nonresidents hunt in the Empire State contributing over $1.5 billion annually to the state’s economy and supporting thousands of jobs. Importantly, hunting is also a critical tool in managing overcrowded deer populations. According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s’ Bureau of Wildlife, there were more than 220,000 deer taken in New York State in 2008 with over 4,400 taken in Oneida, nearly 4,000 taken in Madison and over 3,100 taken in Herkimer Counties.
With so many deer roaming freely in New York, Hunters are needed to help maintain healthy herds and minimize the amount of annual deer damage. Every year, overpopulation of deer leads to damaged crops, landscape, and vehicles. Deer contribute to an estimated $250 million worth of damage annually and deer-car accidents consistently outnumber accidents caused by drunken driving. Hunters can help minimize these costs by safely and legally managing these wildlife populations to prevent crop and environmental damage.
With the current state of the economy, the donation of venison has become increasingly important and the impact that the hunters have in the fight against hunger has grown. At the same time, the Venison Donation Coalition has seen its funding slashed. In order for these types of programs to continue to flourish, the Venison Donation Coalition, and groups like it need a boost. Individuals can support the Venison Donation Coalition by making a contribution when they purchase a hunting license or by visiting the coalition’s website at www.venisondonation.com
In an effort to take some of the burden off of these coalitions and support hunters across the state, Schumer today announced that he introducing legislation to create tax deductions for hunters and processors who donate their game to the hungry.
Schumer’s legislation will support hunters, a major economic engine in the state; raise the profile of venison donation programs; provide a reward to hunters and processors for helping their community; and help people in a time of need.