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How will the Phaseout of Federal Estate Taxes Affect Farmers?

Concern among policymakers that the Federal estate tax might force the liquidation of some family farms has resulted in the enactment of a variety of special provisions over the years. Providing relief to farmers and other small business owners was the primary impetus for the 1997 changes to Federal estate and gift tax policies and a major objective of the 2001 law that will phase out and eventually repeal the Federal estate tax. While only about 4 percent of all farm estates owe Federal estate taxes, a much larger percentage of farm estates must file an estate tax return, make use of special farm provisions, alter their business practices, or engage in costly estate planning in order to reduce the impact of the estate tax on their farm business. Thus, the phaseout and repeal of the Federal estate tax will affect a much broader group of farmers than just those who owe tax.

Publication Name
ERS Agricultural Information Bulletin
Downloadable Documents
Ron Durst, James Monke, Douglas Maxwell
Washington, DC: USDA Economic Research Service
Page Numbers
Publication Date
March 01, 2002
Publication Type
Fact Sheets and Technical Memos
Farm Transfer Planning

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