Farming, ranching groups fight for estate tax relief

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has joined 30 other groups in pushing Congress to provide permanent relief from estate tax.

NCBA is asking Congress to at least extend the current relief until permanent repeal is on the table. The current estate tax relief is set at $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple at a rate of 35 percent. But that rate is soon going to change.

"The state tax relief is only temporary," NCBA Associate Director of Legal Affairs Kent Bacus stated. "It's going to fall to $1 million per individual at a 55 percent rate come Jan. 1. So, we're very concerned that if Congress doesn't act, that's going to trip up a lot of our farmers and ranchers."

Thirty groups, including the American Farm Bureau, National Cotton Council of America and the National Milk Producers Federation, are also sending letters to Congress, and they are asking farmers and ranchers throughout the country to contact their elected officials.

"When you take into consideration the total value of the estate, which is everything from your farm implements to how many head of cattle you have to all the diversified businesses you're involved in, that's going to trip up a lot of people," Bacus said. "That's going to trip up 13 times as many families as are currently vulnerable to the estate tax. That's 20 times more farming estates and nine times the amount of small businesses who are going to be subject to the estate tax."

Rather than putting money toward expanded their businesses, many farmers and ranchers are having to pay attorneys. According to NCBA, more than 96 percent of farms and ranches in the country are owned and operated by families. And getting rid of the death tax is imperative in boosting the nation's economy.

"As long as there's uncertainty in tax code, everyone who's engaged in agriculture is going to be subject to the estate tax," Bacus added. "And as long as that $1 million exemption level is in there, every small business is going to be subject to it. So, it affects much more than just agriculture."

NCBA's website offers state-specific information about the fight against estate tax and ways to contact elected officials.