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Poll finds voters support tax reform that helps farmersPoll finds voters support tax reform that helps farmers

More than half of voters expressed support for specific tax reform provisions that would benefit farmers and ranchers.

Jacqui Fatka

August 21, 2017

3 Min Read
Poll finds voters support tax reform that helps farmers

The next big agenda item for Congress appears to be tax reform. A commanding majority of American voters support tax reform, a nationwide poll shows, while most voters also support tax changes that would benefit America’s farm and ranch families.

The survey, conducted by Morning Consult, found that seven out of 10 voters agreed that passing tax reform legislation should be a priority for Congress. More than half of voters polled also expressed support for specific tax reform provisions that would benefit farmers and ranchers, such as allowing farmers to deduct machinery purchases in the year those purchases are made, allowing farmers and ranchers to average their income, decreasing capital gains taxes and repealing the estate tax.

“Americans are ready for tax reform, and many know the toll that taxes take on our farm and ranch families,” American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall said. “Congress must take action to provide tax relief, and farmers and ranchers will be sharing that message with their lawmakers until this job gets done.”

The Farm Bureau noted that, with key lawmakers pushing to make headway on tax reform over the next several weeks, now is the time for farmers and ranchers to share with their representatives and senators why reform is so important for people involved in agriculture.

Among farmers’ and ranchers’ top priorities are comprehensive tax reform that helps all farm and ranch businesses, the reduction of combined income and self-employment tax rates to account for any deductions or credits lost and cost-recovery tools -- like allowing businesses to deduct expenses when incurred -- and a continuation of cash accounting Section 1031 “like-kind exchanges,” as well as the deduction for state and local taxes.

The repeal of estate taxes and the continuation of the stepped-up basis, along with reduced capital gains taxes, are important as well.

Tax rates are one key area ripe for reform, according to the Morning Consult poll. A majority of voters polled (63%) say federal income tax rates are too high. Seventy-two percent of voters support lower federal income tax rates for farmers -- a matter supported strongly across party lines. There was even greater support for lower federal income tax rates for individuals (82%), small businesses (80%) and family-owned businesses (77%).

Voters overwhelmingly, by a three-to-one margin (52-18%), recognize that the current U.S. tax system is unfair to farmers in many regards. Two in three voters went so far as to say that farmers and ranchers should be extended special tax treatment due to the combination of challenges and risks that are specific to agriculture. That sentiment was shared across party lines.

The poll also included the following findings concerning specific tax provisions:

  • A strong majority (73%) support the ability of small businesses to write off business-related expenses.

  • Voters overwhelmingly support (81-7%) allowing small businesses to deduct equipment purchases in the year the purchase is made.

  • Voters support reducing the capital gains tax (54-26%).

  • Three in five voters (61-18%) say farmland that is sold to a member of the next generation should be exempt from capital gains taxes.

  • Three in five voters (60-23%) say farmers or small businesses should not pay taxes on equipment sales if money goes toward replacement.

  • By a 17-point margin, voters say farmers should not pay taxes when they sell farmland and use the money to buy different farmland.

  • A strong majority (64%) support repealing the estate tax.

  • Three in four voters (74%) support allowing farmers to deduct interest paid on business loans.

  • Three in five voters (58-19%) said farmers and ranchers should be allowed to average their incomes for tax purposes due to wide variations in annual income.

Morning Consult conducted the online survey of 1,996 registered voters July 20-July 24, 2017, on behalf of the Farm Bureau. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/-2%.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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