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Beefs and Beliefs

Estate Taxes Reveal Caustic Intent

Taxing fixed assets at rates unpayable with current income is destructive

Arguments about the estate tax may be the most symptomatically revealing of all the arguments floating about Washington, D.C., right now.

The estate tax, in particular, attempts to take wealth from individuals and families and put it in the hands of government. Think about that.

People earn income, they are taxed all along the way, they accrue some wealth nonetheless, and then other people want to use government tax codes to take that wealth away from them.

First, this shows envy and greed on the part of these “progressives.” Not that many years ago this behavior would have been labeled as the sin of envy, or in Old Testament vernacular it would have been called “coveting.” It is a desire to take something away from someone else because jealousy says “they shouldn’t have anything I don’t have.”

Second, it is an act of complete ignorance, because most business people I know have used irrevocable trusts, LLC tax status or C-corporation status to protect their assets, be they agricultural operation or auto repair shops or major corporations.

Incidentally, if you have not made such plans and your operation has a value of $1 million or more, considering the way current winds are blowing I suggest you get with a competent tax and estate planning attorney and get it done.

Further, I want to make the point such taxes are levied on assets, most of which not readily convertible to cash.

Taxing a business 35% or 50% the value of its total assets when most businesses make 5% to 15% profit margins each year on operating capital should be a revealing statistic; the purpose is clearly to destroy the business and disburse the assets.

Ultimately, agriculture is no different than any other business. We may have some great tax planning tools some businesses don’t have, but in the end we pay the same tax rates on net income as every other business in America – within the framework of comparable tax structures.

To heavily tax any business again, simply on the occasion one generation of owners has died, is destructive the entrepreneurial spirit, to the creation of “jobs,” and to the future of the nation.

All that said, I must return to the same issue: These people want to take from those who have just because they don’t have as much. It is selfish envy that drives such attitudes.

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