I recently joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) in introducing legislation to exempt family farms from estate taxes.
Our bill, the Family Farm Estate Tax Deferral Act of 2010 (S.3664), would completely exempt a small family farm from the payment of estate taxes unless or until the farm is sold to others or the land is used for non-farming purposes.
To qualify for this tax exemption, the deceased must have had an annual farm-related income of $750,000 or less; the farm must account for at least half of the estate; it must be passed down to a family member who has been involved in its operation for at least five years; and that family member must continue to use the land for farming.
Our bill would help keep family farms in the family, and would help farming families to stay in agriculture. Be assured that I will work with my colleagues to pass this common-sense bill and provide tax relief to farming families.
Beyond the issue of family farms, I favor making permanent the 2009 levels of the estate tax, the lowest estate tax levels in effect since 1928. Under these rules, each couple could pass on $7 million of their estate completely tax-free. Estate value above that level would be taxed at a 45 percent rate.
Barbara Boxer, US Senator, California