Estate Tax Battle is Set to Resume

It's time for another round over estate taxes and attempts to prevent battles in the future.

Published on: Jan 12, 2012

Congress must decide again this year what to do about estate taxes. A 2010 deal that gave farmers and others temporary relief expires the end of the year. It’s back to fighting over estate taxes, as the 2010 two-year tax deal between Capitol Hill and the White House runs out next December.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Kent Bacus says it took a lot of political maneuvering in the House and the Senate to get the existing $5 and $10 million per individual and couple.

"Our big concern is what they are going to do," Bacus said. "This is a Presidential election year, you also have a third of the Senate and all of the House of Representatives are up for reelection. In election years like this things can get kind of dicey."

Bacus agrees the political lift to end or reform the estate tax gets heavier in a year of deficit-reduction politics. But on estate taxes he argues that it is not a huge revenue generator.

"So I think they are going to be looking at other areas," Bacus said. "Obviously for the businesses everywhere, whether you're a small business, or in agriculture or whatever the case, this is the biggest hindrance to small business."

If Congress fails to act this year the estate tax will revert to a $1 million exemption and a 55% rate, up from 35% now.

Bacus says NCBA wants the tax ended, or at least the expiring deal made permanent, to avoid the year-to-year uncertainty over estate taxes.

"We need permanency in the tax code; we need to give our farmers and ranchers some certainty in the tax code instead of having to come back every two years or every six months and change the tax code up," Bacus said. "Our folks can't afford to have CPAs on call 24/7 because the government can't set the tax code."

Congressman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced a permanent repeal of the estate tax last year and has more than 190 co-sponsors from both political parties.