NFU opposes change to proposed estate tax rule
The National Farmers Union has come out in opposition to a proposed Internal Revenue Service rule that it says would make it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to pass on their land to the next generation.
The NFU decision to file comments in opposition is particularly significant because, unlike some other agricultural groups, the NFU supports the estate tax and it is not regarded as an organization of big farmers. NFU members are also Democratic-leaning in elections.
The IRS has said it is trying to crack down on a loophole under which wealthy people use special use valuations to avoid estate taxes.
But National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson wrote, “These special use valuations take into account the unique challenges that occur in agriculture. The large asset bases controlled by farmers don’t necessarily equate to wealth.”
“The value, the majority of which comes from real estate, is not viewed from the farmer perspective as a salable asset,” Johnson said.
“Farmers are the stewards of that land that they look to pass on, only selling parts of it in the case of dire financial situations. … We are concerned that the changes within the proposed regulation would deny essential discounts to family farms and significantly increase taxes on the transfer of family farms, threatening the ability to keep the operation intact.”
“Treating family farmers, looking to responsibly transfer their operations, as wealthy individuals using aggressive tax strategies to artificially lower their asset value to avoid paying higher taxes is an unfair representation of family agriculture. I hope the Department of Treasury will take responsible action and consider family farmers and ranchers in their final rule,” Johnson concluded.
–The Hagstrom Report