Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Sen. Thune Offers Bill to Eliminate Estate Tax

News / FBNews January 30, 2019

Credit: cjuneau / CC BY 2.0 

Recently introduced in the Senate, the Farm Bureau-backed Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (S. 215) would give farmers, ranchers and others permanent relief from the estate tax.

The current temporary increase in the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person indexed for inflation, along with the continued stepped-up basis and portability between spouses, has allowed many farmers and ranchers to spend money on growing their businesses, upgrading buildings and purchasing needed equipment and livestock, rather than on life insurance and estate planning, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a Jan. 25 letter to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the bill’s sponsor.

“More importantly, when a family member dies, the family can continue farming without having to sell land, livestock or equipment to pay the tax,” Duvall said.

However, the exemption is scheduled to drop back down to $5.5 million per person in 2025, once again putting family farms and ranches, with their highly valuable illiquid assets, in jeopardy.

“When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners have few options other than to sell off farm and ranch assets, jeopardizing the viability of their business,” Duvall explained.

Tax laws must protect, not harm, family farmers and ranchers, which is why Farm Bureau is pledging its resources to secure enactment of the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019, Duvall said.

H.R. 218, a measure similar to S. 215 and also called the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019, was introduced in the House earlier this year.

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