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Important Components for Farmers, but Few Senators Mention Agriculture in Tax Bill Debate

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The Senate-passed tax bill that the House must now either accept or reconcile with its own, would have a big-impact on agriculture, even though ag was hardly mentioned in all the debate leading up to the vote early Saturday morning.

The bill passed 51 to 49 with just one Republican defector, and all Democrats, even those from major farm states, opposed.

During debate Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts of Kansas commented on the bill’s ag tax breaks.

“Five-year property depreciation and permitting full expensing of plant and equipment purchases,” Roberts said, listing the benefits. “The bill would greatly improve the ability of the agriculture community to use the cash method of accounting, which provides flexibility in managing cash flow.”

The bill also includes new tax rates for small, so-called ‘pass through’ businesses, which includes most farms.

“Now this is a very important issue Mr. President for the agriculture community. The majority of farms and ranches are set up as pass throughs and most of the income earned by farmers flow through these structures.”

There is a doubling of the estate tax exclusion to $22 million per couple or $11 million per individual, making it easier to pass farms onto the next generation. But Democrats like Missouri’s Claire McCaskill complained repeatedly that the estate tax break favors the rich.

“I don’t know that we have any farms in Missouri worth more than 11 million,” she said. “Maybe a handful, but they’ve got stepped up basis, which is obviously the most important thing to farmers is that their families don’t have to pay the taxes on the gains.”

McCaskill and other red state Democrats have argued the GOP bill is a giveaway to the rich and corporations. Republicans insist the middle-class and small businesses would proportionally receive huge tax cuts that would boost spending and jobs, including those in agriculture.

Source: NAFB News Service