Few Iowa Farmers Face Estate Tax

Jason Noble reported recently at The Des Moines Register Online that, “If the tax reform packages that have now passed the U.S. House and Senate become law, at least one thing appears likely: The federal estate tax will be slashed and perhaps eliminated altogether.

“That will represent a victory for Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation, who have consistently opposed the tax and argued it unfairly lumps in the state’s farmers with some of the country’s richest families.

“But a review of federal tax data and nonpartisan research on the subject shows that family farmers and small business owners represent a tiny share of estate tax payers, and that the taxes they owe rarely force them to sell land or quit farming.”

Mr. Noble stated that, “The number of Iowans paying the estate tax actually numbers in the dozens each year, out of roughly 1.4 million who file federal tax returns each year. IRS data from the last five years shows the number of Iowa taxpayers owing estate taxes ranged from 32 in 2012 to 61 in 2015, and that the vast majority of those probably were not farmers or small business owners.”

The Register article also pointed out that, “The estate tax is a 40 percent tax on wealth assessed when a person dies, and currently is applied to assets above $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples. The House and Senate bills double those exemptions to $11 million and $22 million, and the House version abolishes the tax completely in 2024.”

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