According to the American Farm Bureau, "without Congressional action, in 2013 the estate tax exemption will shrink to $1 million per person with no spousal transfer, and the top rate will exceed 55 percent."
With this in mind, it's no wonder that estate tax reform is such an emotional issue to the people who have worked hard all of their lives to keep the family farm or ranch intact after they are gone.
Following is a sampling of the many remarks that we received from the Web Poll respondents who shared their thoughts about when, or if, estate tax reform will come about.
• "I work as an accountant, which supports my farming habit. I attended a tax seminar recently, and the instructors did not feel that any changes to estate tax are on the horizon. There may be an increase from the $1 million base that kicks back in during January unless our do-nothing Congress acts."
• "The argument is that the people who inherit did nothing to earn it. That makes no difference to me. My reason for being is to make life easier for my kids than it was for me. Some people work for fame; some work for money that they can enjoy. I am responsible for my kids being on this earth, and I worked for their future."
– Royce Espey
• "Anything that reduces tax income will be squashed to the floor by the current administration."
• "No, the Democrats and the progressive liberals are not going to let go of another cash cow, and they are not going to let private property and liberty prevail."
• "Although this is a critical issue for the farm family, it receives little attention from the lawmakers in Washington. If change comes, it will probably not be benefical to the agricultural industry."
• "No, this administration has little interest in farm issues."
• "This government doesn't care about family farms. They are more interested in monopoly farming and the earmarks that go with it. They want money to spread around."
• "There are many rich congressmen that the estate tax will affect. So to allow the maximum base to return to $1 million would hurt them as well as the farmers. I believe that they will try to compromise and set the base at around $3 million to $3.5 million so that they, along with the farmers, won't be hit so hard with estate taxes."
• "The typical farmer or rancher has a strong real estate base and nominal working capital. They have kept their dollars invested in the business. That type of combination typically results in selling the farm to cover the inheritance obligation. This is a real shame for a business that has taken on the risk like agriculture does. Most farmers or ranchers have a dream to transfer the business to family rather than the government that seems to have little understanding of market-driven activity.
"I personally hate to divide the family farm to support an administration, Congress and Senate that do not take accountability for their actions. They guarantee themselves income, relieve themselves from complying with the laws they pass and play the blame game while asking us to sacrifice our businesses. Sounds like a junior high kid's logic to me or possibly even an elementary kid's."
Go to cottonfarming.com to cast your vote and share your comments. Include your location so that readers will know from which area of the Belt you are responding. Results of the January Web Poll will be reported in the February issue of Cotton Farming.
Web Poll Results
Do you believe that estate tax reform to benefit family farms will happen in the near future?
• Yes – 15 %
• No – 78 %
• It depends – 7 %
January Web Poll Question
Now that they have been around for a while, how much of a role do smartphones, apps and tablets play in your daily farming operation? Please explain in the "Comments" section.
(1) Significant role
(2) Somewhat of a role
(3) Very little to no role
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