The U.S. Senate passed their version of the House GOP tax reform bill in the early hours of Saturday, December 2, 2017 by a two-vote margin, 51-49. No Democrats voted for the measure. Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters were among those voting no, with Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) being the only Republican descending vote.
“Farmers and ranchers have long called for a fair tax code that recognizes our hard work as well as the unique challenges we face in growing our nation’s food, fiber and fuel. The Senate’s passage of tax reform legislation today puts us within reach of that goal," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“We applaud the Senate’s commitment to key tax provisions farm and ranch businesses depend on, such as immediate expensing, business interest deduction and cash accounting. While we also had hoped to see the estate tax finally put to death, increasing the exemption should bring relief for many farm and ranch families looking to preserve their agricultural legacy.
“Farm Bureau looks forward to the Senate and House reconciling the differences between their respective versions in conference to achieve a final tax reform package that addresses the needs and concerns of farmers and ranchers and boosts economic growth in rural America," said Duvall.
Michigan Farm Bureau members have been involved in a grass-roots lobbying effort over the past weeks, contacting their members of congress in both chambers, urging them to support an overhaul of the U.S. tax system. Key items included in the Senate bill:
- Lowers individual tax rates and expands brackets for individual filers
- Reduces the corporate tax rate
- Expands Section 179 small business expensing
- Extends unlimited immediate expensing (bonus depreciation)
- Continues the cash method of accounting for farms
- Continues deduction of business expenses up to $15 million in gross receipts, including feed, seed, fertilizer, chemicals, and fuel
- Continues like-kind exchanges for buildings and land
- Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax
- Doubles the estate tax exemption and continues stepped-up basis
- The bill does not change current laws that determine the Self Employment taxes farmers pay
“Farm Bureau urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support the bill. We now look to Congressional leaders to reconcile differences between the House and Senate passed version and maintain key provisions critical to Michigan agriculture,” said MFB’s National Legislative Counsel John Kran. "Tax reform has been a top priority for Michigan Farm Bureau for decades. We’re glad to see we are one step closer to it becoming a reality.”
The next step is reconciliation between the House and Senate versions of the bill. President Trump has urged Congress to have a bill ready for his signature before Christmas. The House plans to return early on Monday to appoint conferees to begin sorting out differences with the Senate.