CCA’s top legislative priority related to taxation remains the complete elimination of the federal estate tax. The federal estate tax has wreaked havoc on many farm and ranch families seeking to pass on their operation to the next generation. More generally, CCA works at both the state and federal level to reduce tax burdens on producers. Recently, CCA was successful in defeating efforts in the State Capitol to bring a ballot initiative to voters that would have reinstated a California estate tax.
This effort was in response to considerable gains made at the federal level with Congress passing comprehensive tax reform in 2017. Although the legislation did not fully eliminate the federal estate tax, it did double the exemptions provided for individuals and spouses from $5 million per person to $10 million ($20 million for spouses) and indexed the exemption for inflation. Numerous other tax benefits were also included in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017. For additional information on the final Conference Report passed by Congress and signed by the President, please click here.
CCA also continues to advocate for the return of the Williamson Act subvention funding that was eliminated from the state budget in 2009. As a result, many counties began contract cancellation proceedings due to the loss of tax revenue. Reinstating state subvention payments to counties remains a CCA priority to ensure counties maintain this critical conversation and tax program. The Williamson Act was originally adopted not as a tax relief program for farmers and ranchers, but as a conservation program to protect farmland, open space and wildlife habitat. As a result, the program benefits all Californians, not just farmers and ranchers, and the legislature should re-appropriate subvention payments in full to counties immediately.