Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ag groups: Pass 'meaningful, permanent' death tax reform

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's legislative newsletter, out today:

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) joined forces with other agricultural organizations representing farmers and ranchers to call on Congress to pass estate tax reform and to ensure President Obama understands the detrimental effect the estate tax has on family-owned farms and ranches. If Congress does nothing, the estate tax will revert to the pre-2001 levels of a $1 million exemption at a 55 percent tax rate. NCBA's Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said it doesn't take a big cattle operation to have assets in excess of $1 million.

On Tues. Nov. 29, NCBA, PLC and 29 other agricultural organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take a leadership role in reforming the estate tax. The letter said, "This action will strengthen the business climate for farm and ranch families while ensuring agricultural businesses can be passed to future generations. Allowing estate taxes to be reinstated without an exemption and rate that protects family farms puts many operations at risk and threatens succession to the next generation of farmers."

In addition to sending the letter to the President, NCBA hosted a press conference with PLC and eight other agricultural organizations to call on Congress to pass meaningful, permanent estate tax reform. Scott Bennett, a junior at Virginia Tech University and an active participant in his family's ranch, spoke on behalf of NCBA. He said, "With a $1 million exemption and a 55 percent tax, we would need to sell most of our assets just to keep part of the operation in the family." Click here to watch the entire press conference, or click here to view photos from the press conference.

NCBA supports a full and permanent repeal of the estate tax but understands that in the current climate that is not "doable." NCBA supports legislation introduced in the Senate by Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and in the House by Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) to increase the exemption level to $5 million and reduce the rate to 35 percent. The proposals also ensure that any relief related to the exemption is tied to inflation and that a stepped-up basis is included. NCBA also supports proposals for an estate tax exemption for agriculture.

"There are only 27 days until the estate tax returns at levels that many family-owned operations won't be able to bear," NCBA President Steve Foglesong said. "Congress can't continue sitting on its hands not acting. The return of the estate tax will not only impact family-owned farms and ranches, it will have a rippling effect throughout our entire economy. This should not be a political issue. It's time to do what's right and pass permanent, meaningful estate tax reform."

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