The U.S. House passed the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act Wednesday with a 256 to 171 vote. The measure provides a one-year extension of existing tax rates – preventing a tax hike on January 1st. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas expressed relief that the measure was approved. During this time of economic downturn – he said the last thing American families and small businesses need is a tax hike. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association notes the extension of the current tax code means the estate tax – known as the death tax – will remain at a level of 35-percent for estates worth more than five-million dollars per individual and 10-million dollars per couple. While the group's top priority is full repeal of the death tax – NCBA Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus says the plan passed by the House is a step in the right direction.
NCBA is encouraging the House and Senate to keep the estate tax provision in any final package. If Congress does not act by the end of the year – the death tax will revert to a one-million dollar exemption level at a 55-percent tax rate. Bacus notes most farmers and ranchers would trip the one-million dollar threshold on land values alone.
The House is scheduled to discuss the future of comprehensive tax reform today (Thursday). Bacus says Congress must provide permanency in the tax code and permanent relief from the death tax if it is serious about comprehensive tax reform. He says the tax code should not be added to the unpredictability farmers and ranchers face. Until full repeal of the death tax can be achieved – at minimum – Bacus says Congress should maintain the current estate tax relief.