Iowa State University Ag economist Neil Harl says there’s no evidence ordinary Iowa farmers would benefit if the estate tax were lifted. President Clinton vetoed the Republican-supported federal estate tax repeal yesterday. Dr. Harl says the federal estate tax is only paid by the wealthiest two percent of Americans — and that’s not the average Iowa farmer.Harl is uneasy about the idea of completely eliminating the estate tax at a time when America’s rich have gotten so rich. He says there’s been an enormous increase in the superwealthy.Republicans say some folks are forced to sell the farm to pay estate taxes. Harl says that’s not true.Under current law, the “death” tax kicks in on estates worth 675-thousand dollars or more. The value of farms, however, can be calculated based on “special use” which is much less than “market value.” Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush promises to eliminate the estate tax if elected. Democrat Al Gore supports raising the amount one can inherit, tax-free, to five million dollars.
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