Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley, Wyden Seek Information on Appraiser Linked to Inflated Valuations and Massive Tax Breaks

Jul 19, 2019
Washington Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) continued the bipartisan committee investigation into syndicated conservation easements by seeking information about Claud Clark III, an alleged participant in possibly overvalued appraisals that may have led to unjustified tax breaks for investors.
 
Syndicated conservation easements are a transaction with legitimate purposes, but may allow some taxpayers to profit from gaming the tax code and deprive the government of billions of dollars in revenue.
 
“…the Department of Justice alleges Mr. Clark participated in 58 syndicated conservation-easement transactions involving grossly overvalued appraisals resulting in over $1.8 billion worth of federal tax deductions. We recently learned Mr. Clark surrendered his appraisal license this past April to the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board…,” the senators wrote.
 
In a letter to the executive director of the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board, the senators sought a copy of a complaint filed against Mr. Clark, the case file relating to that complaint and any other related documentation and communication with or about Mr. Clark’s case.
 
Full text of the letter from Grassley and Wyden follows or can be found HERE.
 
Ms. Lisa Brooks
Executive Director
Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board
P.O. Box 304355
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
 
July 18, 2019
 
Dear Ms. Brooks:
 
            We are writing to you as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance of the United States Senate. The Committee has exclusive jurisdiction within the Senate over matters of Federal taxation, and we are conducting a bipartisan inquiry into syndicated conservation-easement transactions that are identified in IRS Notice 2017-10. That IRS Notice designated certain transactions involving conservation easements as “listed transactions,” meaning all participants in the transactions must disclose their involvement in them to the IRS.
 
            This past December, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against various individuals associated with these transactions seeking injunctive and other relief against them, and one of those individuals is the appraiser Claud Clark III. In that lawsuit, the Department of Justice alleges Mr. Clark participated in 58 syndicated conservation-easement transactions involving grossly overvalued appraisals resulting in over $1.8 billion worth of federal tax deductions. We recently learned Mr. Clark surrendered his appraisal license this past April to the Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board in lieu of an administrative hearing into allegations that he violated the State of Alabama Real Estate Appraisers Board Administrative Code and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.
 
            The Committee seeks information regarding the circumstances surrounding Mr. Clark’s decision to surrender his license. Specifically, we are requesting that your office provide the Committee with a copy of Mr. Clark’s case file, including but not limited to the complaint against Mr. Clark; information substantiating the allegations contained in that complaint; any communications between your office and Mr. Clark and/or his representatives, including but not limited to letters, memoranda, emails, and notes, however formal or informal; and a copy of the appraisal that is the subject of the complaint.
 
            We are requesting that you provide us with this information electronically by Thursday, August 15, 2019. Should you have any questions, please contact John Schoenecker of the Chairman’s staff and Chris Arneson of the Ranking Member’s staff at 202-224-4515. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
 
Sincerely,
-30-