The American Soybean Association (ASA) participated in a press conference on Nov. 30 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., calling on Congress to enact estate tax legislation before Dec. 31, 2010.

Estate tax legislation enacted in 2001 increased the exclusion amount from $675,000 to $3.5 million and reduced the tax rate on estates exceeding the exclusion from 55 percent to 45 percent in 2009. The bill repealed the tax entirely for 2010, but it will be reinstated in 2011 with an exclusion amount of $1 million and a top rate of 55 percent.

“If not addressed by Congress, the high estate tax rate of 55 percent and low exclusion level of $1 million will very negatively affect the ability to pass farms, ranches, and small businesses from one generation to another,” said ASA Executive Committee member Joe Steiner, a soybean grower from Mason, Ohio. “Even small and very moderate-sized family farm operations would be negatively affected.”

With farmland in many regions selling for $5,000 per acre, it takes only 200 acres of land to reach the exclusion value of $1 million. A $1 million exclusion is inadequate to account for the value of machinery, livestock, and buildings with tractors now costing $150,000; combines costing $250,000-$300,000; and a single cow valued at $1,000.