Montana farmer Jon Tester is backing legislation to prevent an increase in the estate tax and to give Montana farm and ranch families more certainty as they plan for the future.
If current rates are not extended by year's end they will return to 2001 levels, meaning estates worth $1 million or more would face a top tax rate of 55 percent.
Tester's bill extends the current federal estate tax law, which exempts estates worth up to $10 million per couple. Tester's bill also limits taxes on the transfer of property worth more than $10 million to 35 percent.
Tester said extending the current rate will protect Montana families from higher taxes and will allow farmers and ranchers to better plan for their futures.
"Congress needs to protect Montana's family farmers and ranchers from the estate tax and provide predictability and certainty," said Tester, a dry-land farmer from Big Sandy. "This bill is an important step in providing that certainty. Congress needs to pass this bill, because the last thing Montana farmers and ranchers need is another avoidable hurdle to jump over as we deal with record drought."
Tester introduced his bill after voting for a separate, Senate-approved bill to extend tax cuts for all Americans on the first $250,000 of their income.
Tester, the Senate's only active farmer, has recently announced multiple initiatives to help Montana farmers and ranchers recover from drought and wildfire. He most recently announced that Montana farmers and ranchers will be able to buy and sell hay from expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land and new haying and grazing resources for farmers and ranchers in eight Montana counties.