Many farms and ranches will be helped by the recently enacted estate tax exemption of $11 million per person indexed for inflation and the continuation of stepped-up basis, but the threat of a return to the $5.5 million per-person exemption in 2026 highlights the need for permanent relief, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017, temporarily doubles the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person through 2025. In addition, the legislation preserves stepped-up basis and continues to allow the transfer of any unused exemption to a surviving spouse. Farm Bureau supports making the $11 million per-person exemption permanent as a step toward the eventual repeal of the estate tax.
“The new exemption level will protect the vast majority of our nation’s farms and ranches from the devastating consequences of estate taxes, but a potential return to a $5.5 million per-person exemption in 2026 is troublesome. Instead of spending money to upgrade buildings, purchase equipment and further invest in livestock herds, farmers and ranchers will have to continue to divert resources to pay for estate planning and life insurance,” Farm Bureau wrote in a recent letter to House members urging them to cosponsor the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 5422).
Tax laws must protect the families that grow America’s food and fiber, often for rates of return that are already miniscule compared to almost any other investment they could make, Farm Bureau said.
“What is needed are permanent tax policies that do not punish capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches, and that do not hinder sons and daughters from continuing the agricultural legacy of their parents. The American Farm Bureau Federation continues to support estate tax repeal,” the group wrote.