AGRIBUSINESS: Changes will affect 47% of Iowa farms

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Some scary numbers from Senator Grassley; unless Congress acts by December 31, the estate tax will return to levels not seen since 2001; an exemption of $1 million and a tax rate of 55%.

The size of an average Iowa farm is 333 acres. A medium-value acre of crop land is worth $7,877. In total, such an estate is worth $2.6 million.

But when its owner passes away and hands it down to his or her heirs, the rolled-back estate tax would transfer it forward with $1.6 million to be taxed at 55%. That's a payment of $880,000 to the U.S. government.

Grassley says the reduced exemption would impact 47% of Iowa's 92,000 farms. However, if Congress holds the exemption at the current $5 million exemption and 35% tax rate, only a small percentage will be affected.

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