Estate Tax Battle and the Family Farm

The recent introduction of estate tax legislation by Jim McDermott has garnered a lot of attention.  Though unlikely to pass, it is worthy of notice as it begins what will likely be a year long (or more) debate on what to do with the estate tax system now.  This debate is of particular concern for farmers and ranchers.  Josh Rolph, director of international trade, farm policy, taxation and plant health for the California Farm Bureau Federation stated in a recent article in AgAlert:  "The message we have sent to Capitol Hill is that the estate tax unfairly hits farm estates due to the way the assets are held and the intrinsic value placed in maintaining the family farm."  Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City documented a 25% jump in farmland values in seven Midwestern states.  I join the call for farm organizations to put forward reform measures that can enable farmers and ranchers to pass their operations to future generations, free from the burdens of a state or federal estate tax.Uncertainty will continue to be the norm at least through 2012.  However, there are significant opportunities that should be considered and taken advantage of while the current law is still in effect.  As the year draws to a close please take this time to meet with a qualified attorney and accountant to talk about how your farm or ranch can benefit from the current estate tax law.