Senators Secure Language in Tax Relief Legislation
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced that his amendment to maintain the fair tax treatment of cooperatives, which he authored with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), has been included in the conference committee’s final tax relief package. The elimination of Section 199 in Congress’ draft tax bills presented a significant problem for cooperatives, threatening to increase their taxes and leading to higher costs for their members. The Hoeven-Thune language included in the final bill fixes this provision, ensuring cooperatives in North Dakota and across the nation will benefit from Congress’ tax relief legislation.
“We worked hard to ensure the final tax relief legislation provided certainty for cooperatives and treated them fairly,” Hoeven said. “Cooperatives provide vital services for our communities and agriculture producers and fill an important role in our economy. I appreciate Senator Thune, as well as our colleagues in the Senate and the House, for working with us to secure this important provision for our cooperatives. I look forward to advancing this and the rest of our tax relief legislation to help grow our economy and benefit middle-class Americans, workers, small businesses, farmers and ranchers.”
“Throughout the debate on tax reform, Senator John Hoeven has worked tirelessly to ensure that farmers and their co-ops were treated fairly. In particular, the Senator recognized early on that the elimination of the Section 199 deduction threatened to raise the tax burden of many producers and cooperatives. The provisions that he and Senator John Thune were able to secure in the bill will, we believe, keep money in the pockets of family farmers across the country at a time when low commodity prices mean that every penny counts. We strongly support this bill and thank Senator Hoeven for his leadership.”--Chuck Conner, President & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Tom Astrup, President and CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company, applauds Senator Hoeven for his hard work on behalf of family farmers. Senator Hoeven fought effectively to craft a good alternative to Section 199, the Domestic Production Activity Deduction, which is eliminated under the tax bill. We think the alternative will continue to provide important job creating incentives to rural America, which is extremely important given this challenging period for the farm economy.
“Senator Hoeven’s leadership in the tax reform debate means that CHS members—both farmers and local co-ops—will continue to be engines of economic activity in North Dakota and across the territory we serve. The Section 199 deduction helped to create jobs and broaden the tax base in many rural communities and the loss of the deduction would have had impacts far beyond agriculture. Senator Hoeven has prevented that scenario through his efforts to make the new tax code work for co-ops and their members. On behalf of CHS and our farmer-owners, I would like to thank him for being a champion of agriculture.” – Jay Debertin, President & CEO of CHS Inc.
“Land O’Lakes and our members thank Senator Hoeven today for his dedication to making the tax reform package work for family farmers and the co-ops they own. Senator Hoeven led the effort to ensure that eliminating the Section 199 deduction does not have the unintended consequence of raising taxes on producers during hard times across the countryside. The provisions included in the final package will offset the loss of this deduction, we believe, and help encourage job creation and growth across rural America.”--Chris Policinski, President & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) worked to gather support for the Hoeven amendment in the House of Representatives, along with Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mike Conaway (R-Texas). Other cosponsors of Hoeven’s amendment in the Senate included Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Texas) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
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December 19, 2017 at 12:53PM
By Mikkel Pates | Forum News Service
Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Nov. 30 introduced an amendment that would retain the "Domestic Production Activities Deduction" for agriculture. If the amendment gets added to the Senate bill and the bill passes, it would preserve lawmakers' ability to bring up the topic in reconciliation with the House.
The provision is called the Section 199 tax deduction. As co-ops like Minn-Dak pay their shareholders for their beets, the individual shareholders are allowed to deduct a portion of that from their income taxes.
Minn-Dak flows through $4 million to $7 million in deductions to its shareholder-growers. The impact for a 500-acre Minn-Dak grower is about $15,000, Wickstrom says. The issue will likely be a point of discussion at the co-op's Dec. 5 annual meeting in Fargo.
American Crystal Sugar Co., based in Moorhead, Minn., is working on the same issue. "Valley-wide, we estimate that the loss of Section 199 will result in an annual net tax increase for our shareholders of $9 (million) to $14 million just for American Crystal," says Kevin Price, American Crystal's vice president of government affairs.
That's an $11 million to $21 million annual hit for the Red River Valley in sugar beets alone. Other co-ops have a similar problem.
"Of course the timing couldn't be worse given the ag economy with depressed commodity prices. Our growers need all the tools that they have. This would be a fairly significant hit for them," Wickstrom says, adding, "Sometimes these bills move forward without an understanding as to what the impact is going to be for those involved."
He says individual cooperatives, as well as the National Council of Farm Cooperatives, are working to educate elected representatives.
$1B of $1.5T
Jon Doggett, executive vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, says the co-op deduction is one of the important issues within the tax bill. The NCGA is one of 160 groups who have signed a letter urging the House Ways and Means Committee not to take that provision out because it's important to the cooperatives.
"A lot of our members are co-op members," he says. "We're pushing on that one, but that's going to be a heavy, heavy lift because it costs money to put that back in."
Doggett thinks that's about $1 billion out of a reform package worth $1.5 trillion. He says the problem with these kinds of bills is that they solve one problem but create another problem for someone else.
"You can rob Peter to pay Paul, but sooner or later Peter is going to get pretty upset," he says.
Doggett, who spoke on a panel at the Northern Ag Expo in Fargo on Nov. 29, says agriculture needs to be wary of being cut as conservative members look to sequestration — across-the-board spending cuts — to offset the trillion-dollar tax cuts.
The NCGA sees pluses and minuses within the tax bill but is not taking a position on it.
"It's a marginal plus for most of our growers," he says, noting the organization doesn't take a position on the overall bill because there are different versions that can change quickly.
"When we get to a final, final bill, we may may take a look at it and make that decision," he says.
Other important pieces include how farmers can expense new and used farm equipment and how they use cash accounting and depreciation schedules.
Doggett thinks the tax bill and appropriations bill schedules will have a big influence in determining what's in a new farm bill and when it's passed. He thinks the earliest a farm bill will be addressed will be February or March, but it's likelier in the summer.
"There are even a few folks very quietly saying we could use another extension," he says.
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December 4, 2017 at 04:40PM
The Hagstrom Report
A coalition of 180 farm and agribusiness groups has written House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urging them to preserve the deduction for co-op production and marketing expenses known as Section 199 in the tax bill.
The bill that the House Ways and Means Committee passed last week eliminates the deduction that co-ops pass along to their members.
“In its current form, H.R. 1 repeals Section 199 with the assumption that cooperatives and their members would benefit from the proposed reduced corporate and individual tax rates,” the farm leaders organized by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives wrote.
“However, the math does not add up for the farm sector. Farmer-owned cooperatives are not taxed like traditional corporations, so they cannot benefit from lower corporate rates like most other industries. Even more troubling is that for many farmers, changes to the individual tax code would not be enough to offset the loss of the Section 199 agriculture deductions.”
“A proposal adopted during the House Ways and Means Committee mark-up would create a rate cut for the first $75,000 of business income for certain taxpayers,” the letter said.
“While intended to compensate for the repeal of Section 199, initial assessments find that this proposal in no way compensates for the loss of the value and flexibility afforded by the Section 199 deduction, and adds needless complexity to the tax code.”
The House is expected to vote on the tax bill on Thursday after the House Rules Committee issues a rule on Wednesday.
The Senate Finance Committee is considering the Senate version of the bill this week.
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November 16, 2017 at 10:20AM