The Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) is urging its members to “Put the Death Tax to Rest” in a new campaign focusing on upcoming death tax legislation. If Congress does not act beginning in 2011, the law reverts back to a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent. When their parents die, the children will have to sell the family farm to pay taxes and more of Montana’s open space will be subdivided.
“That’s why if you’re a farmer or rancher who owns land, it’s time to let Congress know what the death tax means to your family’s business,” says MFBF President Bob Hanson. “Being silent may mean that we see the exemption go back to one million dollars. This will be detrimental to hard-working Montana agriculture families.”
Hanson explains that escalating land prices easily make the majority of farms and ranches well over the $1 million exemption. “That’s why Farm Bureau is stepping up and letting Congress know that we need permanent and meaningful estate tax relief for America’s farm and ranch families if we want to keep family farms in business. A higher Death Tax exemption level and a lower rate need to be put in place now,” the White Sulphur Springs rancher notes.
“Farmers and ranchers whose families have either been directly impacted by having to pay estate tax or those who have gone through expensive planning to be able to pass their operations to the next generation need to let their elected officials know about their trials and tribulations,” said Hanson. “The 2011 change to the estate tax law does a disservice to agriculture because we are 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 make it difficult for family-owned farms and ranches to make sound business decisions.”
The MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Committee address this critical issue with their DVD, “Endangered: Agriculture’s Next Generation.” Four ranching/farming families—Jim Willis from Buffalo, Bruce Wright from Bozeman, the Lanes from Livingston and the Nelsons from Livingston—openly discuss how the estate tax creates hardships in passing down land to the next generation to continue to produce food.
MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Chair Peter Taylor looks at the big picture of keeping farms and ranches in the family. “Passing on working farms and ranches to the next generation and beyond should be a priority for everyone in this nation,” the young Kirby rancher says. “In a world that is becoming less and less stable, it is vital to our future security as a nation to keep our productive farm and ranch lands producing food and fiber. It’s extremely important that we explain to our senators, the media and the public how this tax will eliminate the next generation taking over America’s productive farms and ranches.”
MFBF urges its member to contact Senator Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and let him know that Congress needs to “Put the Death Tax to Rest.” Senator Baucus may be reached at (202) 224-2651.
Posted by Kaci Switzer