WASHINGTON, D.C. - Now is the time for congressional action on estate tax relief, preserving capital gains tax breaks and extending other important tax provisions, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, Stallman said, "No matter is more pressing for our nation's farmers and ranchers than prompt passage of legislation" that extends tax provisions that expired in 2009 or are set to expire at the end of this year.

"Farm Bureau calls on you to work with Congress to enact legislation before the end of the year in order to avoid the economic damages that that will be caused by tax increases and the uncertainty that surrounds the tax code," Stallman told the president.

On Nov. 18, President Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the legislative agenda for the lame duck session of Congress. The top issue on Farm Bureau's list for the lame duck session of Congress is estate tax relief. Without congressional action, the estate tax will be reinstated in 2011 with a $1 million exemption and a top rate of 55 percent, a reversion back to the level 10 years ago.

"For farmers and ranchers, passage of estate tax relief is the single most import tax issue left unresolved by Congress," Stallman told the president.

In his letter to President Obama and in previous letters to Congress, Stallman said Farm Bureau supports a $5 million estate tax exemption and top estate tax rate of 35 percent.

"The return of estate tax unaltered will strike a blow to farm and ranch operations trying to transition from one generation to the next," Stallman wrote. "In the late 1990s, twice the number of farm estates paid estate taxes compared to other estates, and it took two and half years of farm returns for a moderate-sized farm operation to pay estate taxes owed. A $1 million exemption is not high enough to protect a typical farm or ranch able to support a family. When coupled with a top rate of 55 percent, it can be especially difficult for farm and ranch businesses."

SOURCE: American Farm Bureau Federation