14. - Create new options for keeping family-owned private lands intact when inherited

Text from the Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan, 2008, Page 16

To pay federal estate tax, families often must subdivide and sell property to raise cash. To reduce the likelihood of this ownership fragmentation and habitat loss, policymakers should:

  • Create programs that identify lands and important wildlife habitat that are at risk of fragmentation due to future estate tax liabilities and place them in easements or conservation programs that can keep the lands intact and preserve their importance to wildlife.
  • Develop new incentives to maintain continuity of large landscapes. Develop conservation cooperatives for lands divested by timber companies and other large land holders. Encourage programs that maintain conservation easements or continuity of lands that have value to wildlife.
  • Consider, for example, tax incentives, such as expanded conservation and access related deductions, exemptions, and transferable credits that could be enacted in the years remaining before the inheritance tax expires (i.e., allow reappraisal of easement and exempt increased value, if any, from the inheritance tax).

Assessment of Status: Partially Complete

Legislation has not passed that would create programs to maintain continuity of landscapes. However, there is proposed legislation, such as the American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act and the Family Farm Preservation and Conservation Estate Tax Act, that could provide incentives to maintain these landscapes.

On December 31, 2012, unless Congress passed legislation, several increases in tax rates and decreases in government spending through sequestration would have occurred simultaneously. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned that, if all of the fiscal tightening that was scheduled to occur at the end of 2012 had actually occurred, the economy probably would have fallen into a recession. CBO estimated that if there wasn’t legislation to stave off the fiscal cliff, they expected a drop in gross domestic product (GDP) of ½ percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013).

On January 1, 2013, Congress passed legislation to stave off the fiscal cliff. CBO estimates that the legislation may increase GDP growth in 2013 by about 1½ to 1¾ percentage points relative to what would have happened if Congress did not pass legislation.

The legislation lowers tax rates for many people—thereby boosting output—but it also expands budget deficits—which will reduce national saving and lower the stock of productive capital, thereby reducing output relative to what would have occurred under prior law.

Supporting documentation and findings

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