Estate Tax Viewed as Big Ag Issue in 2010

The estate tax will be one of the big issues in Congress for farmers and ranchers in 2010, according to Mark Maslyn, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The exemption levels at the end of 2009 were $3.5 million per household. In 2010 that has gone away. The estate tax has expired,” Maslyn said in an AFBF Newsline interview. “However, leadership in Congress and the administration are opposed to keeping it dead, and it will come back to life in 2011, but it will do so in a way that encompasses far more people than it previously affected: a $1 million per household exemption. And that’s going to cover a lot more people, particularly in agriculture.”

Farm Bureau continues to advocate repeal of the estate tax, maintenance of stepped-up basis and action to provide certainty for estate tax planning. AFBF backs H.R. 3905, the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009, introduced by Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Artur Davis (D-Ala.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The bill phases in a $5 million exemption and 35 percent top rate over 10 years while preserving stepped-up basis.

Also for 2010, trade issues should draw more attention and Congress will likely pass new food safety laws, according to Maslyn. Farm Bureau will also be urging Congress to slow down the creation of new climate change rules and other environmental regulations. Maslyn also said farmers and ranchers can expect more activity from animal rights activists in 2010.

AFBF Newsline