We support permanently raising the estate tax exemption to $5 million per person and reducing the top rate to 35 percent. It is also imperative that the exemption be indexed to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis. This is the message sent to Sens. Harry Reid (Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.) by several national agricultural organizations.
The American Sheep Industry Association and the other organizations signing the letter represent family farmers and ranchers that provide food and fiber for the nation's citizens and for people around the globe. Family farmers and ranchers are not only the caretakers of our nation's rural lands but they are also small businesses. The current estate tax law does a disservice to agriculture because it is a land-based capital intensive industry with few options for paying estate taxes when they come due. The current state of the economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities, also makes it difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions.
The signators urged Congress to pass permanent estate tax reform now and asked for its leadership in reforming the estate tax to strengthen the business climate for family farmers and ranchers while ensuring that agricultural businesses may be passed to future generations.