Tim Koopman’s family survived two fights with the death tax. But that was before urban expansion and Silicon Valley billionaires threatened to ruin the land.
A death tax bill forced Kerry Lightsey to sell his ranch. Now that same land is a living testament to suburban sprawl. Instead of pristine pasture that provided for cattle and Florida’s wildlife, the land has been converted to a massive apartment complex.
Rancher Pete Bonds has a simple message for Congress when it comes to the death tax.
“We move forty to fifty thousand cattle through here a year, and that’s $75-$100 million dollars and there’s interest on almost all of that money, so to lose the interest deduction would be actually catastrophic for us. It’s kind of almost beyond what I could get my brain around.”
“You’d think in operating a business like this, the most important decisions would be strategic decisions about buying or selling cattle or buying and selling land,” Wolf says while sitting in his pickup truck surrounded by his cattle. “Instead the most important decisions I’ve made have been estate-planning decisions, and they have impacted our ability to maintain our operation more than anything else – and that doesn’t really seem right.”
Kevin Kester’s family has been ranching in California since the 1860s, but it’s not weather conditions or market volatility that keeps him up at night. The death tax harmed his family and community before. Now he’s worried it could happen again.