Farm Bureau Continues to Push Estate Tax Reform

Farm Bureau is urging support for a broad exemption to the estate tax bill introduced by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.). The bill would increase the exemption under the estate tax while lowering the tax rate.   “There aren’t 60 votes in the Senate for permanent repeal, so we are shifting from repeal to get the best possible deal we can for farmers and ranchers,” Pat Wolff, AFBF tax specialist, told The Hill newspaper. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee are expected to meet this week to discuss the issue.  Under Berkley’s bill, taxpayers with $5 million or less in assets would be exempt from estate taxes, while the tax rate would be lowered to 35 percent, down from 45 percent. Under current law (set to expire at the end of 2009), taxpayers with assets valued at $3.5 million or less are exempt from the tax. The current law expires at the end of 2009. There will be no estate taxes in 2010, but the tax returns in 2011 with a lower asset exemption ($1 million) and a 55 percent tax rate.