Letters to the Editor

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Freezing exemption not an option

By The Staff

To the editor:

Like most Americans, family farmers and ranchers are affected by the current economic situation facing our nation. Unfortunately, farmers and ranchers face an added economic hardship: the federal estate taxes that come due when a family member dies.

We should all commend Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez for urging Congress to improve existing estate tax law to allow farms to continue operating when a family member dies. Sen. Nelson was one of only 10 Senate Democrats who voted to approve a crucial bipartisan amendment offered last week by Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln and Arizona Republican Jon Kyl.

 Unless Congress acts, the estate tax exemption will drop to $1 million in 2011. The resulting tax hit may force families to sell farm assets including land to pay the taxes when a family member dies. Here in Florida, buyers are likely to be developers and the farm is ultimately replaced with more intensive uses.

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