On September 19, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced the Keep the Forest and Farm in the Family Act of 2012 (HR 6439) to provide estate tax relief for forest owners, farmers, and ranchers—presuming Congress fails to extend estate tax provisions scheduled to expire this December 31. The bill—supported by the American Forest Foundation and endorsed by FRA—would allow owners to pay any estate tax owed on the value of their land if they keep it in the family as a working forest (or farm), rather than assessing the property at the “highest use” value, allowing a reduction of assessed value up to $5 million.
AFF President Tom Martin notes that the approaching estate tax “cliff” could trigger massive land conversion if landowners are compelled to liquidate family holdings to pay the escalated rates: “The estate tax burden is an imminent, national threat to forestland—52 million acres of America’s family forests are owned by someone 75 or older. If Congress does nothing, forests and America’s conservation legacy will lose.”
On September 18, FRA joined AFF and 48 other endorsers in petitioning House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Michigan) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Michigan) to support the bill.