Domestic Taxes

Ranchers demand a fix for the estate tax

Senate Finance Chairman Max
Baucus (D-Mont.), whose state is home to several family ranchers, has wanted to
move an estate tax fix since January. But issues like health reform, a
prolonged debate over extending unemployment insurance, and advancing a Wall
Street reform bill have monopolized the attention of lawmakers in his chamber.

Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) have tried to advance a bipartisan fix for the tax.
But more liberal members in the Senate would likely have trouble supporting it,
as they feel the estate tax falls mostly on wealthy taxpayers who can afford to
pay it.

Because farm and ranch assets
consist mainly of land, buildings and specialized equipment, those estates look
wealthy on paper. But they include few assets that can be liquidated to pay the
tax without closing the business, Foglesong said. Farm and ranch estates are
five to 20 times more likely to incur estate taxes than other estates.

“This is not a tax on the ‘wealthy
elite,’” Foglesong said. “The wealthy can afford accountants and estate
planners to help them evade the tax. … Farmers and ranchers are often forced
to sell land, equipment, or even the entire ranch just to pay off tax

As the August recess draws
closer, other organizations will also be calling on Congress to take action on
the estate tax. 

United for a Fair Economy, which has been fighting to preserve
the estate tax since 1999, will host an event on July 21 with Former
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and several others calling on Congress to
reinstate the estate tax before the August recess. Rubin is expected to discuss
his reasons for supporting a permanent estate tax fix.

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