More than 30 agriculture groups recently sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging them to provide farmers and ranchers with permanent relief from the estate tax.
Current tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2012. After January 1, 2013, exemption levels drop from $5 million to $1 million per individual and the tax rate increases from 35 percent to 55 percent.
Groups signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and American Sheep Industry Group.
The groups writing the letter – many of which have long opposed the estate tax on principle as well as economic reasoning – urged a full repeal of the tax. Barring that, they urged changes to the estate tax including a permanent extension of current law with provisions to index the exemption to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis.
The estate tax is one of many taxes set to change after the first of the year, making up half of what is known as the “fiscal cliff.” Other changes would affect depreciation schedules and amounts, capital gains and payroll taxes.