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Scott Bennett is not laughing

Created: 12/02/10 (Thu) | Topic: Issues

Scott Bennett says the death tax is no laughing matter.

"Colleagues in the industry like to joke about how 2010 is the year to die, but to me it’s not really that funny.  I want to graduate college, return to my farm, work with my family and live a successful and fulfilling life providing food for this world," he said.

Bennett’s family ranch, Knoll Crest Farm, in Red House, Virginia, was started by his great-grandfather and is now owned by his 76 year old grandfather and operated by his father and uncles.

"My grandfather has attempted to plan around the uncertainty of the death tax, but this task is nearly impossible.  With a one million dollar exemption and a 55 percent tax, we would need to sell most of our assets just to keep part of our operation in the family."

Although 2010 is an estate tax-free year, under a tax law passed in 2001, the tax returns on Jan. 1, 2011, with a top rate of 55 percent and a $1 million exemption. With such a low exemption, as many as 13 percent of farms and ranches whose owners pass away could owe estate taxes next year, according to the Agriculture Department.

"Folks here in Washington like to talk about repopulating rural America and bringing the next generation back to production agriculture, but let me tell you, in rural America producers are fed up because actions do not reflect words or promises here inside the beltway," Bennett said.

The agriculture community rallied together in Washington this week to advocate repeal of the estate tax. Ten ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, held a press conference urging Congress to put the death tax to rest. Bennett, a junior in college, participated in the event.

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