Estate Tax Provisions Questioned by Some Democrats

Farm Bureau officials dismiss claims; biofuels tax credits still uncertain.

Published on: Dec 8, 2010

American Farm Bureau Federation tax adviser Pat Wolff rebuts claims by Capitol Hill Democrats that the boost in the estate tax break, which was pushed by ag groups, from $3.5 million last year to $5 million next with a top rate of 35% is a 'giveaway' to the rich.

"It's not fair to classify small businesses and farmers and ranchers as a bunch of wealthy individuals who have money laying around and can pay the estate tax," Wolff said. "When estate tax hits a farm or ranch, it's hitting the business, it's requiring the sale of assets to pay the tax and that's just not right." 

The tax framework deal that has upset may Democrats, also keeps the capital gains tax at 15% and allows a possibly historic one-year full write-off of taxable business assets.

"If a farmer or rancher would buy a combine they could expense the whole thing that year," Wolff said. "It helps with cash flow and it also built as a stimulus tax cut because the money being spent helps the economy." 

Still in negotiations are the fate of expiring ethanol tax breaks and the already expired biodiesel break. Renewable Fuels Association spokesman Matt Hartwig says it's their understanding that those tax cuts are part of the discussions, but what a final bill looks like and what the extension will be is yet to be determined. Though the bigger challenge for the White House was getting enough Democrats to even vote for extending the Bush income tax cuts…the key part of the package.