(NAFB)--Legislation to put an end to the estate tax - also known as the death tax - has been introduced in the Senate and the House. The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 was introduced by South Dakota Senator John Thune in the Senate and Texas Representative Kevin Brady in the House. It is nearly identical to legislation introduced in the last session of Congress - a measure that garnered the bipartisan support of 223 Representatives and 38 Senators. Bill co-sponsor Mike Johanns of Nebraska says death should never be a taxable event. He says the death of a loved one should not put the hard work of generations at risk in order to pay a punitive tax to the federal government. The bill has the support of several groups - including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
According to Steve Foglesong - past president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - the estate tax is a prime example of bad tax policy. He says it’s essentially a death warrant for small-to-medium sized family businesses. While significant tax relief was enacted last year to help farmers cope with estate taxes - Farm Bureau believes permanent repeal is the best solution to protect all farms and ranchers. NCBA is also fighting for full and permanent repeal of the estate tax. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman notes individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98-percent of the nation’s two-million farms and ranchers. Farm Bureau notes the value of family-owned farms and ranches is usually tied to illiquid assets. With 85-percent of farm and ranch assets illiquid - the group says producers have few options when it comes to generating cash to pay the estate tax. When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets - Stallman says surviving family partners may be forced to sell land, buildings or equipment needed to keep their business running. Not only can this cripple a farm or ranch operation - Stallman says - but it hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.
Foglesong says America’s farm and ranch families shouldn’t be forced to sell off land, farm equipment parts of the operation or the entire ranch to pay off tax liabilities and attorney fees. He says the death tax continues to harm rural America’s legacy of family farming and ranching. He says Congress and the American people need to know businesses and jobs are suffering from the death tax and it must be repealed.