By Jay Heflin - 07/23/10 06:35 PM EDT
Their bill, the American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act, updates a 1997 provision in the tax code by raising the exemption for land under a conservation easement to 50 percent and increasing the exclusion to $5 million.
Under current law, up to 40 percent of property can be excluded from the estate tax, which is capped at $500,000, but current easement rules can reduce the exclusion.
The senators say their bill will help beneficiaries of farms from having to sell their land to developers to pay the estate tax.
“[The] development pressure is too strong to help many families who want to preserve their farms or the land and water they love,” Udall said in prepared remarks. “While this is just a small piece of the estate tax puzzle, it’s an important one — a simple update to our tax code will help us encourage greater conservation efforts and support family farmers and ranchers.”