Representatives from nearly a dozen agricultural groups and organizations held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tuesday afternoon to discuss the need for reform of the estate tax. Unless Congress acts estate tax provisions will revert back to 2001 levels of a $1 million exemption and 55% tax rate on Jan. 1, 2011.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says according to USDA with that exemption as many as 13% of farms and ranches who's owners pass away could owe estate taxes next year.
"Estate taxes hit farm families harder than other small business owners because 84% of our assets are real estate based," Stallman said. "When Uncle Sam comes to pay his respects surviving family members without enough cash on hand may be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment that they need to keep their operations going."
During the press conference the groups represented all spoke favorably of legislation that was introduced by Senators Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. That legislation would raise the exemption to $5 million and set the tax rate at 35%.
"Without action from Congress family-owned farms and businesses will continue to prospect even more uncertainty in their planning and risk of being forced to sell assets in order to pay high estate taxes," said Chip Bowling, a member of the National Corn Growers Association Public Policy Action team. "Today, President Obama meets with Congressional leaders at the White House to discuss a path for tax legislation. We hope they realize the importance of extending the estate tax for the future of American farm families and small business owners."