U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., answered the call of Montanans to find a solution to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” by voting to support the bipartisan compromise reached in the Senate late New Year’s Eve. The compromise will permanently cut taxes for Montana families and extend the 2008 Farm Bill that lapsed in September.
Baucus secured important Montana priorities in the compromise, including:
• Permanent estate tax relief for Montana farmers and ranchers,
• Tax cuts to support Montana wind farms, and
• Tax cuts to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
The bipartisan compromise reached includes a nine-month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill that lapsed in September. Baucus led the Senate in passing a new bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill in June. But the House of Representatives failed to act on a long-term bill before the end of the year, despite repeated urging.
“The best solution would have been for the House to pass the full Senate Farm Bill. But, something is better than nothing, and the extension will help provide a safety-net and certainty our farmers and ranchers can take to the bank. Still, we need a more lasting solution.We can’t keep coming back to this every six months or year. That’s no way to run Congress and it’s no way to treat our farmers and ranchers,” Baucus said. “So, passing a long-term Farm Bill will be one of my top priorities in the New Year.”
Estate Tax Relief
Baucus secured permanent estate tax relief in the deal for family farms and ranches that are passed down from generation to generation.
Last week, Baucus took to the Senate floor and reminded his colleagues that failure to fix the estate tax would hurt rural communities.
“Families may lose farms and ranches that have been passed down for generations because of the estate tax hike. These aren’t wealthy aristocrats. They are honest, hardworking people who get dirt under their nails every day to put food on our tables. And all they want in return is to pass the land they work onto their kids and grandkids,” Baucus said.
• The deal makes sure no one is required to pay the estate tax for inheritances up to $5 million – and husbands and wives can add their exemptions together to keep from paying the estate tax on inheritances up to $10 million. For any additional value beyond the $5 million exemption, inheritances will be taxed at a rate of 40 percent.
• Baucus made sure the relief is permanent so farmers and ranchers aren’t left with uncertainty year after year. It is also indexed to inflation to ensure farmers and ranchers can count on the relief to remain intact for years to come.
• Without the deal, the estate tax would have hit all inheritances above $1 million at a rate of 55 percent.
Other Montana Priorities Baucus Secured
Baucus also secured a number of other Montana priorities in today’s deal, including extensions of the Production Tax Credit that supports Montana wind farms and the Vets Jobs tax credit Baucus passed in 2011 to provide tax credits for businesses who hire veterans.
These provisions were included as part of a larger package of tax cuts for working families and small businesses that Baucus passed through his Senate Finance Committee in August. The bipartisan package Baucus’ secured in today’s deal will:
· Extend the Production Tax Credit that supports wind farm projects including the Rim Rock Wind farm in Glacier and Toole Counties and the Shawmut Wind Farm. Wind farms support more than 1,500 jobs and have brought $1.5 billion to Montana.
· Extend tax credits that help businesses hire veterans.
· Extend tax credits that reward businesses for hiring new workers.
· Extend tax cuts that encourage investments in small businesses and help small businesses access the capital they need to grow and hire more workers.
· Extend tax cuts that allow families to deduct the cost of college tuition from their taxes.
· Extend the Research and Development tax credit, which rewards businesses for investing in innovation and new technology that helps them grow.
· Continue tax cuts that help Montana farmers and ranchers take advantage of conservation easements.