Wautoma, WI
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0:56 AM CDT
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Temperatures will range from 79 to 64 degrees with mostly clear skies. Winds will range between 5 and 9 miles per hour from the northeast. No precipitation is expected.
7-Day Forecast
Wednesday
79°F / 63°F
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Light Rain
Detailed Short Term Forecast
Issued at 0:56 AM CDT
Wednesday...Temperatures will range from a high of 79 to a low of 63 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 5 and 9 miles per hour from the southeast. No precipitation is expected.
Overnight ...Temperatures will range from 65 to 63 degrees with cloudy skies. Winds will remain steady around 6 miles per hour from the southeast. No precipitation is expected.
Thursday...Temperatures will range from a high of 82 to a low of 63 degrees with mostly cloudy skies. Winds will range between 3 and 11 miles per hour from the east. 0.85 inches of rain are expected.

Death, taxes and farming - Congress needs to fix 2013's estate tax levels

Oct. 25, 2012 | 0 comments

A commentary by Casey Langan, executive director of public relations/spokesman for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

Benjamin Franklin said death and taxes were supposed to be life's certainties. However, when you combine the two, the result is anything but certain for Wisconsin farm families.

Estate taxes (sometimes called death taxes) are as unpredictable as Mother Nature.

Between 2002 and 2012, the federal estate tax exemption and tax rate changed nine times.

To say its on-again-off-again nature makes it difficult for farmers to plan for a transfer of the family farm to the next generation is like saying this past summer was a little dry.

Here's the looming problem: As recently as 2009, less than two percent of farms were subject to the estate tax when the exemption was $3.5 million.

That's a good thing, because when Uncle Sam comes to the farm to pay his last respects (in the form of the estate tax), survivors without enough cash may be forced to sell off portions of a farm that took generations to build.

Without action from Congress, next year's estate tax has a top rate of 55 percent and a $1 million exemption. The U.S. Agriculture Department estimates 10 percent of farms will be subject to the estate tax.

The $1 million per person exemption means a married couple with a 500-acre farm in Wisconsin will find themselves subject to the estate tax when one of them dies.

Here's why this is particularly painful and important in farm country: Estate taxes can hit farm families harder than other small businesses because 86 percent of their assets are real estate-based.

Farming takes a lot of capital assets (land and equipment) to generate the same dollar in income that another type of business could generate with less.

Once the November election is over the Wisconsin Farm Bureau wants Congress to provide an estate tax provision that would increase the exemption level to $5 million, and adjust it for inflation, and reduce the maximum rate to 35 percent. This allows farm families a better chance of feeding the world for another generation.

There has been lots of talk about people getting their 'fair share' this election season. Well, farmers ought to have the ability to pass the farm to the next generation.

Farming by its very nature is unpredictable. Look no further than last summer's drought for proof. Without proper planning a drought can wipe away generations of equity in a single disastrous harvest.

Our federal government should not be setting up farm families for the same kind of pitfall by failing to fix the estate tax structure.

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