Time for Tax Reform for Farmers and Ranchers

Time for Tax Reform for Farmers and Ranchers

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s one of those clichés that became a cliché because of its deep-rooted truth – when something is working, changing it is almost never the way to make it more effective. But when it comes to our federal tax code, most farmers and ranchers would say the inverse of the statement needs to become the cliché: it’s broke, and we’ve gotta fix it.

 

As it turns out, we’re not the only ones who feel like our tax code needs some serious overhauling. American Farm Bureau recently released the results of a poll conducted by Morning Consult. The survey specifically asked U.S. registered voters questions about agriculture and tax reform. The nationwide survey showed, consistently and with certainty, that voters support sweeping changes in tax structures to benefit American agriculture.

For example, 72 percent of those polled support lower tax rates for farmers, and 77 percent of those polled who support lower tax rates for family-owned businesses. (And, after learning that 98 percent of farms and ranches are family-owned, four in five U.S. voters agreed they should be extended the same favorable tax treatment offered to small businesses.) A 64 percent majority of the voters polled support repealing the estate tax. Three in five voters say farmland should be exempt from capital gains taxes when it’s sold to a member of the next generation, and the same number of voters say farmland should be exempt from taxes on equipment sales, if the money generated goes toward replacing the equipment. In short, tax reform for agriculture isn’t just an industry priority – it’s a nationwide priority with wide-reaching support from both sides of the political spectrum.

What’s more, there’s hope that Congress is starting to recognize this fact, too. In a joint statement released this July, leadership from the House, Senate, and Treasury came together to express their commitment to reforming the tax code to make it work for American families and businesses. Calling tax reform a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” the group expressed its unified belief that “the single most important action we can take to grow our economy . . . is to fix our broken tax code for families, small business, and American job creators.”

For Arizona Farm Bureau, all of this information boils down to another familiar cliché: it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. A delegation of our State Farm Bureau Board members are travelling to D.C. in September, where we will discuss our broken and unfair tax codes with Arizona’s congressional delegation. We have our finger on the pulse of legislation that will make the tax code fairer for farmers and ranchers, such H.R. 246’s proposal to repeal the Health Insurance Tax for small businesses.

And, because there’s no more powerful voice than the voice of our members, our Government Relations team has provided you with an easy way to reach out to your elected officials to tell them that it’s time for a simpler, more transparent tax structure. We’ve set up a message that you can send to your Congressional members with just the click of a button – or, you can make the message far more powerful by personalizing it to include a story of how your operation has been impacted by an unfair, unclear, and unworkable tax structure. Just visit our Action Center under the Public Policy tab on www.azfb.org to make your voice heard today.

Your Comments Are Your Story

While we will always provide standard comments about the issue, we hope you’ll customize to tell your story. Here are tips from a few advocacy experts for personalizing your message to lawmakers.

1.      Make sure you are registered to vote. Lawmakers check.

2.      Lawmakers don’t care about people outside of their district. So, if you’re writing to a legislative or congressional representative, make sure your letter is to your elected representative.

3.      Personalize your communication, email, letter, phone call or office visit. It helps to establish your credibility by sharing your background and expertise.

4.      Know where your legislator stands on the issue you are writing about.

5.      Always be gracious with your words and actions.

6.      Always remember to say thank you in your email, letter, phone call or office visit.

For years, Arizona Farm Bureau has worked to fix what’s broken. We have consistently advocated for comprehensive reform including repealing the estate tax and lowering capital gains taxes. And now, we’re working harder than ever, because we have evidence that our work isn’t in vain. It may still be broke, but we’re starting to see it fixed.  

Editor's Note : This article also appeared in Arizona Farm Bureau's monthly publication, Arizona Agriculture, the September 2017 issue.

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