Tax liabilities can lead to a severe financial misstep.
If you are likely to inherit the family farm, it would be wise to pay especially close attention to your estate planning attorney and CPA, according to Capital Press in “The family farm is coming to you: What’s next?“.
If you receive the property as a gift from parents while they are alive, then you retain their income tax basis in the property. If they inherited it also, they likely have a low tax basis. Farms with a basis of $50,000 that are now worth $2 million are not unusual. If the farm is sold, there will be a capital gains tax on the difference between the basis and the present value, which could be more than $600,000.
If you inherit the farm from a parent and then sell it for $2 million, its value at the time of their death, you would not have to pay a capital gains tax. That saves $600,000.
The estate tax may not be so bad, depending upon your state’s estate tax, which is probably lower than the highest capital gains rate. If you live in Oregon, you may be eligible for the Oregon National Resource Credit, which was created to reduce Oregon estate taxes on family farms. Your estate planning attorney will be able to help you plan for and manage these taxes.
If you bought the farm from a parent’s trust or estate for $2 million, then you have a $2 million basis in the property and will probably not owe any property gains tax, if you eventually sell it for $2 million.
Just be sure that you comply with all reporting requirements. If you are in Oregon and took the Oregon National Resource Credit, then for five out of eight years after the death, the recipient of the inherited property is required to file an annual certification to keep the credit that was used to lower the estate tax. Failure to comply, means that a portion of the estate tax will have to be repaid.
If you own the farm without other family members, you should start planning your next steps. To whom do you want to pass the farm? If you want to keep the farm in the family, work with an attorney who is familiar with farm families so that you can keep working the land and reduce any disputes.
Farmers often separate business operations from the land, with the operations held by one business and the land held by another entity. This allows the estate planning attorney to plan for succession in how operations and land are transferred to the next generation. It also provides asset protection, while you are alive.
Make sure that your farm succession plan and your estate plan are aligned. A common issue is finding that buy-sell documents don’t align with the will or trust.
Reference: Capital Press (March 24, 2019) “The family farm is coming to you: What’s next?”