Most farmers are assuming that since there is no estate tax for 2010, that this must be a good thing for all taxpayers. The reality is that many farmers may end up paying more in taxes than under the law in effect for 2009. This is due to the fact that carryover basis will no longer be in effect for many estates.
Under the old law, when a person died, all of their assets were revalued for income tax purposes based upon the value at the time of death. Then when the heirs sold the assets, this was the “cost” that they could use in determining their gain or loss.
For example, suppose, a farmer died owning equipment that was worth $1 million dollars that had been fully written off. Under the old law, you could step up the value to $1 million dollars and depreciate it over 5 to 7 years. If instead, you decided to sell the farm equipment for $1 million immediately, there would be no tax owed.
Now, when you inherit the equipment, you get no step up in basis, and when you elect to sell the equipment, the gain will be completely taxable. Also, this sale will not qualify for capital gains treatment, therefore it will be subject to ordinary income tax rates. At a 35% bracket, this would result in owing $350,000 of tax.
Therefore, due to not having an estate tax, we went from (1) complete step up in value to date of death value, (2) no estate tax being owed for all estates under $3,5 million, and (3) full write of assets over time as depreciation against other income to owing $350,000 in income taxes. This does not sound too good to me.
I am hoping that Congress gets their act together and fixes this, but I am not too hopeful. I will keep you updated.Categories: Farm Taxes, Legacy Planning, Retirement
Tags: Estate Tax