My Thoughts on Max Baucus's WSJ Op-Ed

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:09/02/2021

I thought it was worth sharing Baucus' op-ed about how proposed new tax policies would hurt working landowners, as well as share some thoughts of my own.

This morning the Wall Street Journal published an excellent opinion piece by former Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana decrying Congress’ proposed legislation to eliminate “the step-up in basis at death on capital gains of more than $1 million and $2.5 million for couples. That means family businesses would have to pay taxes on their appreciated value even if that value is still locked up in the business. Eliminating the step-up would force family (farm) businesses and ranchers to liquidate when an owner dies and to lay off employees while bringing in little revenue for Uncle Sam.”

The Senator is too polite, and I will note that Senator Baucus helped shepherd the Conservation Easement title first passed by President Bush in the Pension act of 2006, the proposed tax legislation will devastate family farms and ranches. This is yet another example of members of Congress with largely metropolitan constituencies failing to understand the needs of rural America.

Baucus writes further: “Lawmakers should know this is a mistake. In 1976 and again in 2010, Congress passed legislation eliminating the step-up in basis. Both times it had to be reinstated because of the devastating effects on family-owned businesses…Eliminating the step-up would devastate family-owned businesses, ranches and farms. That’s why I call on Democrats to preserve the step-up as it is.”

Well said Senator, I hope your democratic colleagues listen and follow your sage advice.