You don’t have to travel very far in Oklahoma to understand how important farming and agriculture are to our state. We are the second-largest beef-cow-producing state and fourth-largest wheat producing state in the nation. Oklahoma is also home to over 86,000 farms, covering 35 million acres. Farms and ranches have been passed down in many families from generation to generation—our agricultural roots run very deep.
Take the Brandon family from Kay County for example. Charlie Brandon and his wife, Lindsey, grow wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans and oats on their family farm. They also own a hay business and a cow-calf and stocker operation. The Brandon farm has been passed down from generation to generation starting with Charlie’s great-grandparents. Charlie and Lindsey’s children, Piper, Baylin and Bowen, will be fifth-generation farmers—a very special opportunity. We are proud to know many families in Oklahoma who share the Brandons’ story—family farms are part of our state’s identity.
Back in 2017, Congress made history by enacting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first comprehensive tax reform legislation in 30 years. This critical legislation continued Congress’ commitment to ensure farmers like the Brandon family aren’t disproportionately taxed on their assets. Our friend and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. John Boozman, said it best in Fox News:
“Farmers are land rich and cash poor. Their farmland is equivalent to a farmer’s 401(k). Instead of traditional retirement accounts, farmers and ranchers invest in cropland and pastureland, and tirelessly work that land in an effort to create a more prosperous future for their loved ones.”
Democrats are trying to get rid of the stepped-up basis, consequently increasing taxes on hard-working farmers like the Brandon family to pay for their socialist agenda for coastal states like New York and California. They would like you to believe that stepped-up basis is a government subsidy for wealthy heirs and that the wealthiest family dynasties absorb the overwhelming majority of the benefit. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, resetting the basis of the value of land, buildings and livestock ensures the future financial stability of a family farm. Eliminating the step-up in basis, or even capping the benefit, would create greater barriers to new and expanding producers, trigger an immediate tax burden upon death and unravel a system that has allowed generations of Americans to pass down what they have built to their families and children. Plain and simple—this is a double tax that would devastate rural Oklahoma families.
Not only do Democrats want to raise taxes on rural America, but they also want to get rid of the state and local tax deduction cap to cut taxes for coastal elites. This just proves the intentions of the left and shows Washington Democrats are out of touch with middle America. Taking from hard-working Oklahomans to foot the bill for out-of-touch elites is just wrong. As conservative Oklahomans, it is our duty to ensure Oklahoma farmers are protected from this onslaught of over-regulation and over-taxation.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas are both Republicans from Oklahoma.
This op-ed originally appeared in the High Plains Journal.