Cryptocurrency tax loophole is key to saving wildlife

One may seem to have nothing to do with the others.

But closing a tax loophole for cryptocurrencies may salvage what has been called the most important wildlife conservation legislation in decades: the United States Wildlife Act Reclamation.

“It would be the biggest thing to help wildlife in a generation,” said Alex Taurel, director of the wildlife conservation program. League of Conservation Voters.

The bill’s fate now rests with the US Senate as it works through the final days of its current session.

It’s a narrowing window, but supporters of the bill believe that in the final push to get things done, the bill will pass.

“I absolutely do,” said Jenny Dickson, director of the wildlife division of the State Department of Environmental Protection. “I think the signs are good.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Robert LaFrance, director of policy at Audubon Connecticutthe state chapter of the National Audubon Society.

The bill seemed likely to pass this summer. The United States House of Representatives had passed it and the bill had passed through the appropriate Senate committees. He had enough bipartisan support to overturn a filibuster.

US Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is one of the bill’s sponsors.

But the version of the house had never clearly specified how to pay for the act. The Senate has been working on that and, at this late date, hopes to close a tax loophole related to cryptocurrency transactions.

Federal regulations currently do not allow people to quickly buy stock, sell it, and then buy it back again, known as wash trading.

The wild west of cryptocurrency trading has no such regulations. Cryptocurrency traders can quickly buy and sell currencies to manipulate the market in their favor.

The Senate is now poised to close the tax loophole, which could bring the federal government up to $1 billion a year in new tax revenue.

That money would pay for the US Wildlife Recovery Act. While final Senate work could change these estimates, Connecticut could receive $7.8 million of that money in 2023 and more than $10 million in 2024 and 2025.

It is very necessary. Dickson said DEEP gets most of its wildlife conservation funding from the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, which taxes hunting and fishing gear, and then redistributes the money to states.

But Dickson said Connecticut can spend this money only on conservation projects that involve birds and mammals. That leaves out reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants, which are all ecologically tied together.

For example, Dickson said, it’s clear that the state’s insect-eating birds — swallows, chimney swifts, nightjars, nightjars — are in decline. But DEEP lacks the funds to study insect life and determine if declining bird numbers are due to declining food supplies.

You cannot study the connection between plants and pollinating insects or protect the habitats where these plants thrive.

It also lacks the money to study species like the bog turtle, an endangered species that, without protection, could become the first reptile in the state to be extirpated, extinct within our limits.

Dickson said the funds could also be used to react aggressively to prevent environmental emergencies. In 2008, when a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome struck Connecticut’s bat population, the state lacked funding to respond to what became an ecological disaster. Now four species of bats are listed as endangered in the state.

Lori Brown, director of the Connecticut League of Conservation VotersHe said the state must also focus on the profound changes that climate change will bring, as well as the reduction of open space in the state.

“It’s the death of a thousand cuts,” he said of the development-by-development invasion.

The funds could also be used to hire high school and college students to do wildlife conservation work, LaFrance said. There would be funds to get our youth involved in conservation work,” she said.

If the Senate does not pass the bill, work on it would have to start all over again in the House of Representatives. By 2023, the Republicans will be the majority party in the House and are unlikely to unite around major environmental legislation.

What is expected for now is that the US Wildlife Recovery Act will be incorporated into the Omnibus Spending bill, the large appropriations spending package that funds the federal government each year.

“If they want to keep the government running, they have to approve it,” Dickson said.

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