Without congressional action, in 2013, the estate tax exemption will shrink to $1 million per person with no spousal transfer, and the top rate will increase to 55%, striking a blow to farmers and ranchers trying to transition from one generation to the next.
The Joint Economic Committee recently released a report on the devastating power unleashed upon family farms when an estate tax is triggered. Simply titled “Estate Tax Report Released,” the committee also considered the broader impact on the economy.
The report, approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation and examined in Farm Futures, notes that, while farm owners may have a great potential wealth … such wealth is tied up in land (an illiquid asset) and is not necessarily cash-in-hand.
However, the IRS will hold you accountable for the estate taxes due on your land, even if you have to sell the land to pay for it.
"When estate taxes on an agricultural business exceed cash and other liquid assets, surviving family partners are forced to sell illiquid assets, such as land, buildings, or equipment to keep their businesses operating," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "With 88% of farm and ranch assets illiquid, producers have few options when it comes to generating cash to pay the estate tax."
If you (or a loved one) own a family farm, then there is no time like the present to make proper estate plans to protect and preserve the farm and the family wealth it represents. You have worked hard to make a living from your farm. Isn’t it common sense to spend some time and money protecting and preserving it?
Reference: Farm Futures (July 26, 2012) “Estate Tax Report Released”