The American Sheep Industry Association joined more than 30 other national agriculture groups in sending letters to members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives asking for support for permanent and meaningful estate tax relief. The organizations represent family farmers and ranchers who provide food and fiber for the nation's citizens as well as for people around the globe.
If estate taxes are allowed to be reinstated at the beginning of 2013 with only a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent, the negative impact on the agriculture industry will be significant. The signators support a permanent exemption of $5 million per person and retaining the top rate of 35 percent. It is also imperative that the permanent estate tax law index the exemption to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis.
Family farmers and ranchers are not only the caretakers of our nation's rural lands but they are also small businesses. The 2013 change to the 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 our economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities, makes it difficult for family owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions.
The organizations urge Congress to pass permanent estate tax reform and respectfully request your leadership in reforming current estate tax laws before the end of this year. This action will strengthen the business climate for farm and ranch families while ensuring that agricultural businesses can be passed to future generations.