The National Cattlemen's Beef Association on Tuesday joined more than 30 groups representing the agriculture industry in sending letters to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate urging them to provide farmers and ranchers with permanent and meaningful relief from the estate tax.
Current estate tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2012 with exemption levels dropping to $1 million per individual and the tax rate increasing to 55%.
"If Congress allows current estate tax relief to expire it will have a devastating impact on the cattle industry. America's farmers and ranchers are small business owners who cannot afford to foot the bill for government inaction," said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. "The fate of American agriculture and our economic recovery rests on there being certainty in the tax code and continued relief from the burdensome death tax."
Reducing the tax burden on cattlemen and women has always been a top priority for NCBA and the beef cattle community. For decades NCBA has fought for full and permanent repeal of the estate tax. Alexander said that at a minimum, NCBA supports extending the exemption level to $5 million per person and retaining the top rate of 35% until permanent repeal is achievable.
NCBA says uncertainty in the tax code, specifically with the estate tax, creates an unnecessary burden for farmers and ranchers who are forced to set aside valuable resources for estate planning instead of investing in the expansion of their family businesses. Because more than 96% of American farms and ranches are owned and operated by families, NCBA says eliminating the death tax is an important step in stimulating the nation's economy.
Ranching families are often land rich and cash poor, with the appraised value of rural land being extremely inflated when compared to its agricultural value, NCBA notes, and it says many cattle producers are forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money on attorneys or sell off land or parts of their operations to pay off tax liabilities.
"NCBA stands with our partners in agriculture in urging Congress to act by the end of this year to renew the current estate tax relief until full repeal of the estate tax is possible," Alexander said. "We will continue to make this our top priority until there is certainty in the tax code and rural America is relieved from the devastating effects of the estate tax."