Green tax schemes and Denmark’s cardiac arrest app

in May 17th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of May 17, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

If you’re a Romanian citizen and considering the COVID vaccine, now might be the time. The castle in Transylvania famously known for being the inspiration behind Dracula’s home has opened its doors to offer vaccinations every weekend this month. The best part? You’ll also get free entry to the castle’s “torture” rooms and leave with a vaccination diploma complete with a fanged medical worker brandishing a syringe.


Going green for the tax cuts

Fri May 7

For some, preserving land is more about protecting themselves from taxes than protecting the environment. Around 1979, the U.S. began offering federal tax deductions for “syndicated conservation easement,” aka land deals made with the promise to never develop that land. These deductions make it financially worthwhile to preserve land — a priority of the Biden administration — but the IRS says it’s evolved into an abusive tax scheme, bucketing them with other tax frauds/scams. 

Entire agencies now exist to broker such deals, leading to over $9.2 billion in tax deductions in 2018 alone. Promoters market these plans as a way for accredited investors to earn tax breaks that more than make up for the cost of initial investment. For example, one promoter promised an investor a $200K deduction for a $50,000 commitment. These promoters are then compensated ~12% of that commitment while the agency retains even more (with only about half the investor’s money going to the actual land purchase). Problem is, the deductions are often overinflated as they are based on the land’s estimated value if it were developed.

But the IRS is catching on and now challenging more than $21 billion in such tax deductions across 28,000 taxpayers. Investors of these land deals are now being warned by their accountants (some of whom are also being criminally charged for these schemes) that they may face millions in back taxes if the IRS disallows their past deductions. While the IRS sets up their new office to determine the fate of these investors, some are suing the agencies that got them involved in the first place. 

Some additional resources...


App connects strangers to avoid a bigger danger: cardiac arrest

Sun May 9

If letting a stranger into your home could save your life, would you allow it? Denmark does, using an app to communicate with over 100,000 Danish residents who have volunteered to respond to heart attacks in their area. Here’s how it works:

  • The app awaits notification from the national emergency number for dispatches sent for heart-attacks.
  • Upon notification, up to 20 volunteers are contacted within a mile radius of the patient, and the first to arrive is even connected with a dispatcher to guide them through what to do.
  • The app also helps volunteers find nearby AEDs, a type of defibrillator that can jumpstart a heart back to its normal rhythm (you’ve likely seen them in public places as they’re widely available in many countries).

Denmark has seen the survival rate increase from 4% to 16% for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests since using the app. More than half the time, these volunteers — who often have no prior health training — arrived at the scene faster than an ambulance, an essential difference given the odds for surviving cardiac arrest drop 10% for every minute without intervention.  

While similar technology has existed successfully in Sweden since 2013, the U.S. struggles to gain widespread adoption. On top of concerns regarding the lack of training for the volunteers, fear of ‘stranger danger’ exists on both sides: for those who have to enter a stranger’s home and for those who have to be comfortable with a stranger entering their home. One Delaware County is pushing forward with an app that’s been around for years, investing $20,000 to set it up and connect it to their emergency (911) calls.  

Some additional resources... 

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I’ve come to suck your COVID!

Art Credit: JGS

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