Farmers warn: Estate taxes can kill family businesses
Farm Bureau member Brandon Whitt urged Congress to repeal the estate tax to free up farmers and ranchers to build stronger businesses and benefit their local communities. Whitt, who farms in Tennessee, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, where he outlined the harmful impact the estate tax has on family-owned businesses.
“Agriculture looks different on farms from state to state but we all face the same reality that an uncertain tomorrow can bring,” Whitt said. While facing unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets, farmers and ranchers make decisions to expand their businesses and remain competitive. “Why should uncertainties over estate taxes be added to these others? Our job is hard enough as it is.”
Whitt’s family knows the harmful effects of the estate tax firsthand. Batey Farms, which Whitt runs with his wife – the seventh generation on the farm – and father-in-law, changed completely when his father-in-law was forced to sell off land to pay estate taxes: The land was lost to development, never to be recovered. Today, they continue to face expensive, long-term decisions to make Batey Farms viable far into the future, but they are committed to preserving the land for their community and future generations.
“We believe that our farm adds value to our town, that our neighbors value our open space, that our customers value having a local food source and that our farm market creates a sense of community,” Whitt said.
Around 90 percent of farm and ranch assets are illiquid, with the value tied up in land, buildings and equipment. For Whitt’s family, and thousands of others just like them, the ability to grow a business and pass it on to the next generation is slowed by a tax policy in direct conflict with the desire to preserve and protect our nation’s family-owned farms and ranches.
Farm Bureau is supporting the recently introduced Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015 (H.R.1105), Original cosponsors include Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).
–American Farm Bureau Federation