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Helping People Age with Dignity

Bill proposes estate tax law changes when it comes to farmland

Many things can impact what kinds of state estate tax issues could come up in relation to a person’s estate here in Massachusetts.

One is what kind of property the estate contains. Massachusetts has a value threshold for when the estate tax will apply to an estate. So, estates that contain particularly high-value assets, such as large sections of land, can be particularly likely to raise estate tax issues.

Also impactful are the specifics of the state’s estate tax laws. Recently, a bill was proposed which would make some changes to these laws.

Specifically, it would change how the estate tax can be calculated when it comes to farmland that is passed on.

Currently, the property value used for farmland when it comes to the estate tax is the value for its most profitable use. This often is not agriculture.

The bill would create a new choice when it comes to such estate tax calculation. A person could pick to have the land’s agricultural use value used instead of the most profitable use value. One caveat is that, if the land is sold for non-agricultural purposes within the next 10 years, back taxes would be assessed.

The thought is that this might make it easier to keep farmland fully intact and in agriculture use when it is passed on from generation to generation.

What impacts do you think this bill would have when it comes to the passing on of farmland?

Another thing that can have major impacts on what happens with a given estate when it comes to the state estate tax is what kind of estate tax planning a person has done. There are a variety of estate tax planning options a person here in Massachusetts who is concerned that their estate might end up being large enough to be subject to the state estate tax may have. Such individuals can go to a skilled estate planning attorney for guidance on what options are available and which options would fit best with their overall goals.

Source: Boston Globe, “Stow lawmaker aims to protect family farms,” Jennifer Fenn Lefferts, March 9, 2017

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