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10 agricultural improvements in new tax reform bill

The legislation was signed into law Friday before Christmas by President Trump.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

December 22, 2017

2 Min Read
CHRISTMS GIFTS? If you’re hoping to find enough tax reform benefits to buy a tractor, a purchase probably won’t hinge on tax reform.

Editor's note: This story is an update on 13 tax reform 'gifts' likely to be under ag's Christmas tree, which published on Dec. 15.

Congress delivered the historic 560-plus-page Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and President Donald Trump signed it into law on the Friday before Christmas. The changes will affect 2018 taxes, not those for 2017. Here are a few details offered by American Farm Bureau Federation of what’s wrapped up inside it for agriculture:

1. Property tax deductions. This business deduction continues for real estate and person property taxes on farm business assets.  

2. Co-op dividends. The Domestic Production Activities (Section 199) Deduction is replaced with a new 20% maximum deduction on taxable income for qualified cooperative dividends. (See pass-through income.)

3. Like-kind exchanges. Continues Section 1031 exchanges for buildings and land, but will end for equipment and livestock.

4. Estate tax relief. Doubles to $11 million per individual. Stepped-up basis continues.

5. Bonus depreciation. Allows businesses to immediately write off 100% of qualified property costs through 2022, and now includes used equipment.

6. 179 expensing. Permanently increases the maximum allowance to $1 million, but increases the expenditure level to $2.5 million, at which point the deduction begins to phase out. Both are indexed for inflation.

7. Interest deductibility. Limits it for businesses with more than $25 million gross receipts by disallowing deductions exceeding 30% of adjusted taxable income. Still allows carryover rules.

8. Like-kind exchanges. Continues Section 1031 exchanges for real property (buildings and land), but ends it for equipment and livestock.

9. Net operating losses. Allows carrybacks for two years and carryforwards indefinitely, but limits carryforwards to 80% of income.

10. Pass-through income. Covers income from sole proprietorships, joint ventures, limited liability companies and S corporations. Individuals operating these businesses can take a 20% deduction of business income payments from co-operatives and farmland rent. It’s limited to 50% of W-2 wages paid to employees or the sum of 25% of W-2 wages paid plus 2.5% of depreciable business property. The W-2 limit doesn’t apply when taxpayer income doesn’t exceed $315,000 (joint) or $157,000 (individual).

Co-operatives, trusts and estates are eligible for this 20% deduction. Individuals owning many service businesses with income over $150,000 aren’t eligible.

Most of these tax breaks expire within 7 to 10 years. Reason: A Senate rule limits legislative impact on the federal deficit after 10 years.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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