Senate passes death tax amendment

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Just a few years ago the complete repeal of the estate tax, commonly termed the death tax, seemed within grasp under Republican leadership. Now with a struggling economy and Democrats in charge, farmers will have to settle for a scaled back version of the estate tax.

In 2001 Congress laid out steps for a full repeal, with the estate tax set to expire completely in 2010, but then would revert back to 55% tax on estates worth only $1 million or more in 2011 without any action.

In a vote on the budget resolution April 2, members of the Senate voted 51-48 to pass an amendment sponsored by Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Jon Kyl of Arizona.

The Lincoln-Kyl amendment would raise the death tax exemption to $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple, indexed for inflation. Under this amendment, the maximum tax rate is reduced to 35%. Currently, estates valued at more than $3.5 million, or $7 million for a couple, are taxed at a 45% rate. President Obama has proposed freezing it at this level so it can be dealt with at a later date.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association manager of legislative affairs Jill Davidsaver, explained "the amendments don't have the force of law, but they are important guidelines for committees that have jurisdiction over the policies in the amendments.•bCrLf 

The bipartisan amendment was sponsored by Senators Lincoln and Kyl, as well as Senators Ben Nelson, Chuck Grassley, Mark Pryor, Pat Roberts, Mary Landrieu, Mike Enzi, Susan Collins, and John Thune.

"We'll continue to push for a full repeal of the estate tax, but we realize that may not be viable right now in the current political and economic climate. The Lincoln-Kyl amendment is the best option to provide relief in the meantime," stated Gary Voogt, NCBA President and rancher from Marne, Mich.. 


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