Estate tax debate rages on

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As 2012 draws to a close, farmers and ranchers across the nation are awaiting word on the fate of President Obama’s proposed changes to estate taxes.

According to NPR, although most of the “fiscal cliff” debate has focused on income taxes, another battle could be brewing over estate taxes.

Jared Bernstein, an economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says the estate tax has likely been overshadowed during the debate because only the richest two in 1,000 estates would be affected by it.

Currently, only estates valued at over $5 million would owe estate taxes. If the president’s proposal is approved, estates valued at $3.5 million and up would be taxed.

The tax rate would also increase 10 percent from 35 to 45 percent.

The plan, according to Bernstein, would bring in an extra $120 billion over the next 10 years.

If no deal is struck in Congress, the estate tax could go up to 55 percent and it could be applied to estates valued at $1 million and up.

Pat Wolff of the American Farm Bureau Federation says many farmers and ranchers are worried about that scenario as family farmers could be affected. She says it’s not unusual for farmers to have about 80 percent of their wealth tied up in the land, which could mean that families could have to sell off a portion of their land to pay the tax.

Advocates for the estate, or death tax say farmers and ranchers would be able to pay the tax in installments in lieu of selling off land to pay the tax.

A decision regarding the estate tax has not yet been reached.

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Durango, CO  |  December, 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Estate Tax is theft. Most, if not all, assets have already been taxed. Likely several times. The government has not taken on any risk. Other than national defense, it offers little protection of those assets. Corruption exists at the highest levels of government. They simply want to take a large portion of an estate from those who have worked and sacrificed their lives and give it to those who have squandered their talents and opportunities.

WI  |  December, 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM

The Estate DEATH tax is THEFT by the government.......this money/land has been in a lot of families for generations and taxed at least once already if not more. Being forced by the death tax to turn over some of a person's money to the government because they died, how criminal!

John Deares    
Chebanse, IL  |  December, 17, 2012 at 08:37 AM

Who are the advocates ? Advocates for the estate, or death tax say farmers and ranchers would be able to pay the tax in installments in lieu of selling off land to pay the tax.

Mike B    
Texas panhandle  |  December, 17, 2012 at 09:38 AM

I agree with you whole heartedly. Our ranch has been in our family since 1910. In that time, half of the original land was sold to pay for taxes, the rest split up between the various heirs. What my close family has of it is a small portion of the original ranch. Farm families don't blow through their inheritance. They know what kind of work it took to accumulate the assets that are inherited. They do whatever they can do to pass it onto their children. For the government to think that they have a right to a life time of someone else's labor is asinine. The death tax needs to be permanently done away with as all it is is government theft.

Texas  |  December, 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Yet we still re-elect all the incumbents that basically do nothing except reward themselves with additional perks and get themselves ready for the next election.

SD  |  December, 17, 2012 at 03:12 PM

Yes, the Death Tax is theft, as well as yet another federal agency demonstrating its incompetence: the cost of collecting it is at least 65% of the income collected! That is obscene! It also is more burdensome for farmer/rancher families than those in other many estates of the extremely wealthy been confiscated via this tax? Do they pay anything at all??? Death Taxes clearly are especially hard for those businesses which are owned, managed, and labor provided by a family,and where there is a low return on investment, as in agriculture at about 1.5 to 3%, and which are 'asset rich and cash poor'. Currently, it might be possible to borrow enough money to pay the tax, but it sure won't work when interest rates return to more normal levels. That is often predicted to happen in a very few years, maybe even months.

Wesley R Belter    
fargo nd  |  December, 17, 2012 at 08:38 PM

You or your family didn't build that farm, ranch, business, or savings and investment. Therefore it is the right of government to confiscate your wealth and distribute it as Obama see fit. Better contact your Congressional delegation and tell them to stop this theft.

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