Tester Fights to Protect Montana Family Farmers and Ranchers from Harmful Government Regulation

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester is fighting to protect Montana family farmers and ranchers from a proposed regulation that could limit their ability to pass-on their operations to the next generation.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Tester pushed back on proposed changes to the tax code that could prevent family-owned farms and ranches from being able to pass their operations down from one generation to the next without being forced to pay a significant estate tax.

“While I support the Treasury Department’s efforts to weed out loopholes which are often only used by the wealthiest among us, we must do this in a way that won’t be detrimental to our family farms and ranches,” Tester wrote.

“We appreciate Senator Tester’s leadership in ensuring the tax code works for small businesses,” said Tracy Brunner, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President. “Family farms and ranches in Montana, and across the country, are small businesses that rely on a stable tax code that allows us to make sound financial decisions for the future and remain in business from one generation to the next.”

The Treasury Department’s proposed regulation would make it more difficult to discount minority shares when passing down business interests to family members.

Since 1990, owners of family farms and ranches have been able to pass minority stakes in their businesses to family members, which then allows them to pass their entire operation down to their family at a later date without having to pay the estate tax.

When family members transfer minority stakes of ownership in their farms or ranches they often come with prohibitions that prevent those shares from being sold outside of the family.

These rules help keep farms and ranches within the family, and help prevent families from being forced into a situation where they have to liquidate parts of their operation to pay the estate tax.

The estate tax currently only applies to estates that are valued over $10.9 million in 2016 and $10.98 million in 2017 per couple.

Tester’s letter to Secretary Lew is available HERE.