The Path Forward for Tax Reform
By Danielle Beck
On the heels today’s successful budget resolution vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, tax reform is all set to move forward. While some elements of the budget resolution are not binding, specific instructions in the text give Republicans the ability to move tax legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote. The latest milestone follows weeks of public engagement from the Administration and Congress. In speeches, talk show interviews, and op-eds, Republicans have been pushing the benefits of their tax plan, known as the Unified Framework for Fixing the Broken Tax Code.
The Unified Framework includes encouraging details for America’s cattlemen and women. Chief among them is the commitment to eliminating the death tax, a key obstacle to keeping family ranching operations intact and viable over the long-term. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that we are only at the beginning of the legislative process. Draft text of tax reform legislation is not expected to be released until November 1, 2017.
The road ahead
The next phase of the tax reform process promises to be contentious and noisy. Alongside the procedural steps will come vigorous public debate and partisan bickering. Battle lines are already hardening around key issues, as Republicans and Democrats seek to frame the tax debate according to their preferences. In the weeks ahead, it is critical that U.S. beef producers and our allies are loud and vocal about the impact of specific tax proposals on ranching operations and rural communities. If we fail to speak up, other people – with very different agendas – will gladly fill the void.
We have already seen pundits question the need to repeal the death tax and advance false claims about the impact of the tax on farmers and ranchers. One writer even called the death tax a mere “inconvenience.” Cattlemen and women know the reality in the countryside. Whether they have been burdened with the death tax before, or spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on complicated estate plans, ranchers live with the consequences of the current tax code every day. But unless we tell our stories and speak to our elected officials, misguided voices will dominate the conversation.
We cannot do it alone
Inside the Beltway, NCBA will continue to aggressively advocate for a new tax code that protects family ranching operations and accounts for the unique needs of agricultural producers. Our Cattlemen for Tax Reform campaign, which features personal stories of producers dealing with today’s tax code, garnered media attention and racked up over 500,000 views on Facebook. More videos are on the way. Yet as we strive to keep the tax reform pressure on Congress, we cannot do it alone. Elected officials need to hear from folks on the ground about why comprehensive tax reform is critical for our industry.
It has been over 30 years since Congress last overhauled the tax code. If you think our ranchers and producers deserve an update, now is the time to make that message loud and clear.
Danielle Beck is a Director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Washington, D.C.