Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, Wednesday introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 in the Senate and the House, respectively.
Thune and Brady’s bill is nearly identical to legislation introduced in the 112th Congress that received the bipartisan support of 223 Representatives and 38 Senators.
The bill would eliminate the estate tax, which the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says is "one of the leading causes of the breakup of multi-generation family farms and ranches."
As it currently stands, the estate tax exemption level remains at $5 million, $10 million per couple. The top tax rate on the value of the estate over the exemption level increased from 35% to 40% as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations which took place at the beginning of 2013.
During a press conference, Thune and Brady were joined by several other legislators and Steve Fogelsong, an Astoria, Ill., rancher and past NCBA president.
Fogelsong said many farm and ranch families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with most of the value of their estate attributed to the value of the land they use to grow food and fiber for consumers around the world.
"America's farm and ranch families should not be forced to sell off land, farm equipment, parts of the operation or the entire ranch to pay off tax liabilities and attorney fees," Fogelsong said.
Also supporting the legislation, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explained that individuals, family partnerships and family corporations own 98% of the nation's 2 million farms and ranches.