Ag groups hail introduction of Death Tax Repeal Act

Reps. Randy Feenstra and Sandford Bishop introduce bill to completely repeal estate tax.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

January 18, 2024

3 Min Read
Getty Images/ iStock

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and many other agriculture organizations are applauding U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, and Sanford Bishop, R-Ga., for their introduction of the Death Tax Repeal Act. Introduced today, the legislation, which has a Senate companion bill that was introduced March 2023 by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., would permanently repeal the death tax, an unfair and costly tax on the transfer of property, land, and other assets from a deceased family member to heirs of family farms and small businesses.

According to Feenstra, over 99% of the two million farms and ranches and over 95% of our nation’s small businesses in the U.S. are owned and operated by individuals and families. The legislation would enable these multigenerational businesses to continue to support their families without having to pay a devastating tax upon the death of a family member.

“I’m proud to lead 162 of my colleagues to permanently repeal the death tax, ensure that hardworking families, farmers, and small businesses keep more of their hard-earned money, and strengthen family-owned-and-operated enterprises in Iowa,” said Rep. Randy Feenstra. “By fully eliminating the death tax, we can keep China away from our farmland, allow family farms and small businesses to succeed, and encourage the next generation of Iowa farmers and business owners to plant their roots in rural Iowa, support our main streets, and contribute to our economy.”

Over 194 organizations, including many in the agriculture sector, support the Death Tax Repeal Act.

“Farmers and ranchers face unpredictable challenges from changing weather to fluctuating markets. The tax code shouldn’t add to the uncertainty,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We appreciate Congressmen Randy Feenstra and Sanford Bishop for their work on the Death Tax Repeal Act, which will help ensure families can afford to pass their farms to the next generation.”

Repealing the federal estate tax, also known as the death tax, is a top priority for NCBA.

“It is unconscionable for cattle producers to face a tax that forces them to sell all or part of their family’s farm or ranch due to the death of a family member. With the cost of farmland rapidly rising, the Death Tax presents a significant threat to the future of family farms and ranches,” said NCBA President and South Dakota cattle producer Todd Wilkinson. “Most cattle producers have significant assets but are cash-poor and operate on thin margins, leaving them with few options when they are saddled with an unexpected tax liability. Some producers are forced to sell off assets including land, livestock, farm equipment, or even their home. This is an incredible loss, and it starts a vicious cycle where future generations continue to face punitive taxes their ancestors paid multiple times. Rural America needs a tax code that promotes multi-generational, family-owned businesses instead of chopping them up.”

Current death tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2025, which makes it vital for Congress to act soon and provide permanent relief for our family operations, NCBA added. “If the federal estate tax exemption reverts to pre-2017 limits, coupled with the rapid inflation of farmland values, many more families will be subject to the death tax.”

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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