Members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association are calling for farmers and ranchers from across the country to join forces and contact senators in a plea for permanent repeal of the estate tax, also known as the death tax. A vote on the issue is expected in the U.S. Senate this spring. NCBA has designated May 9 as the national 2006 Capitol Hill call-in day for the issue.
"Now's the time to rally the troops for the upcoming Senate vote," says NCBA president and cattle producer Mike John. "On May 9th, we urge farmers and ranchers to pick up the phone and call their senators on Capitol Hill. Explain first-hand how the Death Tax has been detrimental to your family business and devastating for agriculture. A few minutes of your time can make a world of difference in Washington D.C."
For more than 20 years, members of NCBA have been working for full and permanent repeal of the estate tax, and the upcoming Senate vote is considered a key milestone. Current law calls for the applicable exclusion amount to phase-in gradually toward full repeal in 2010. But because of a "sunset provision" in the law, all reforms expire in 2011. Therefore, the Death Tax will be fully reinstated (at rates of up to 55 percent) only one year after repeal.
"Right now, unless we conveniently die in the year 2010, the threat of a crushing tax on our family operations is inevitable," says John. "For asset-rich and cash-poor agricultural operations like ours, the appraised value of our land is extremely inflated when compared to its agricultural value. We have already paid taxes on these assets two and three times over the course of a lifetime. Then suddenly, when there is a death in the family, we are forced to sell off parts of the operation or the entire ranch to pay off tax liabilities."
"The Death Tax has been very destructive for generations of my family," says Colorado rancher and NCBA member R.J. Jolly. "I've had a lot of experience with this tax in my life, none of it pleasant. Watching the fruits of the labors of the men and women who came before me get swallowed up by some insatiable wealth redistribution has been very difficult. If I sound a bit bitter about this one, it is because I am."
"Join us in this cattle call to continue our long-term fight against the Death Tax," urges John. "We need ranchers like R.J. Jolly, from across the country, to illustrate the realistic consequences."
"We were first hit when my great-grandfather died and our family basically had to buy back the ranch they had all worked very hard on for a generation," says Jolly. "When I was only a child in 1971, my grandfather died suddenly, and we were hit with the taxes once again. Our family had to again borrow money and sell off land just to sustain the family business my father, aunt and uncles had worked to keep intact since they were little kids."
Any U.S. senator can be reached via the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or individual office numbers can be found online via NCBA's Web site at hill.beef.org/pdfs/109thSenateContacts.pdf. If you have additional questions about getting in touch with your senator, contact NCBA's Washington DC office at (202) 347-0228.
For more detailed information on the estate tax and how it affects farmers and ranchers, including personal accounts and NCBA's economic summary, go to: hill.beef.org/tax.