Stepped-Up Basis Survives First Hurdle After NMPF, Farm Groups Pressure

NMPF and other farm groups have thus far successfully protected the current tax policy referred to as “stepped-up basis” during the ongoing budget reconciliation negotiations, with the House Ways and Means Committee excluding any change to current policy in its contribution to the reconciliation package.

The reconciliation bill, which has been actively worked on since August, will only pass Congress with unanimous support from Senate Democrats and near-unanimous backing from their House counterparts, due to united Republican opposition. Reconciliation has become the vehicle for the Democratic legislative agenda, and its final form will include critical provisions to raise the revenue required to pay for various programs and projects.

One proposal initially floated to raise these funds was to change when capital gains on inherited assets are taxed as well as altering the basis for evaluating the amount of capital gains to be taxed. NMPF and other farm groups have been working to prevent these proposed changes from becoming law and protect stepped-up basis.

While many provisions currently in the mix for the final reconciliation package are popular within agriculture – such as funds for rural development, climate change research, biofuel investment, and forestry – agriculture has solidly opposed any proposals to eliminate or otherwise change stepped-up basis because it would likely increase taxes heirs have to pay on inherited farm assets. NMPF and the agriculture community are hopeful the committee’s preservation of current policy will be maintained in the final package and will continue work to ensure that outcome, although circumstances can change rapidly as last-minute negotiations occur.

One area of special interest to dairy — funding for conservation programs with emphasis on climate-smart ag practices — will likely be included in the bill. The plan will invest nearly $28 billion in such programs, which will benefit dairy’s proactive sustainability efforts to become carbon neutral or better by 2050 and to improve water quality and optimize water use. NMPF previously led 12 agricultural and conservation organizations in advocating for this important new funding.