President Trump talks tax reform at Indiana State Fairgrounds

President Trump spoke at the Farm Bureau Building on the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Sept. 27, outlining his proposed tax plan and sharing suggested incentives to keep businesses from locating outside of the United States.

Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron and INFB Vice President Kendell Culp were in attendance to hear the president’s remarks and find out how the plan will affect agriculture. Many of Indiana’s members of Congress also attended the meeting, including Reps. Susan Brooks, Luke Messer and Jackie Walorski. Both of Indiana’s senators, Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, also made the trip.

Trump spoke to several topics including reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, eliminating most itemized deductions and creating incentives aimed at increasing investment in American manufacturing. Perhaps of most interest to the agricultural community is the president’s proposed repeal of the estate tax. The list of proposed reforms to the tax code was lengthy, and it will need to be fully evaluated.

“Tax reform is a very complex issue and the president outlined several changes to the tax code in his address,” said Bob White, INFB director of national government relations. “At this time, we do not know how these changes will affect our farmer members. While INFB certainly applauds this administration for taking on tax reform, it will take time to determine how these proposed changes will alter the tax code for agriculture.”

In general, the discussion around tax reform has been ramping up. INFB staff was invited to attend discussions on the topic at other venues. White attended a round table discussion at the request of state political leaders. Katrina Hall, INFB director of public policy, attended a discussion on tax reform hosted by Walorski, who sits on the House Ways & Means Committee.

Since the speech, the INFB public policy team has been reviewing the changes outlined by the president in order to understand the impact on farmers. There was no mention in the outline of common farming practices such as cash accounting and like-kind exchanges. INFB members also should take time to review the practices they use and investigate how the newly proposed provisions might affect them.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s stance on tax reform, which INFB supports, is summarized below.

Tax reform should embrace the following overarching principles:

  • Comprehensive: Tax reform should help all farm and ranch businesses: sole-proprietors, partnerships, sub-S and C corporations.
  • Effective tax rate: Tax reform should reduce rates low enough to account for any deductions/credits lost due to base broadening.
  • Cost recovery: Tax reform should allow businesses to deduct expenses when incurred. Cash accounting should continue.
  • Estate taxes: Tax reform should repeal estate taxes. Stepped-up basis should continue.
  • Capital gains taxes: Tax reform should lower taxes on capital investments. Capital gains taxes should not be levied on transfers at death.
  • Simplification: Tax reform should simplify the tax code to reduce the tax compliance burden.

Both the House and the Senate are planning to expedite tax reform, White said. INFB will likely issue action alerts as contacts with the Indiana congressional delegation are needed. The level of response will make a difference, and White noted that the INFB action alert system is easy to use.