USFR Customer Support
See the latest reader comments and hear John explain some of agriculture’s complex topics.
Viewers Speak: Tax Breaks & GMO Labeling
Jan 17, 2014
***Editor’s Note: Below are viewer comments in reaction to the January 11-12, 2014 edition of U.S. Farm Report…
#1: Concerning last week’s commentary (January 11) I agree that wholesale tax reform is badly needed but not likely. However, doing away with stepped-up basis which would result in double taxation is not one of those reforms. The viewer you quoted apparently thinks this is a tax break only for the wealthier (upper middle class). Since you oppose the basis step-up, then for the same reasons do you also oppose the estate tax exemption which is now $5,340,000? You talk about eliminating special exemptions (an idea I agree with) but would you also eliminate the taxes that only are assessed on higher incomes. Taxes that result from the phase out of personal exemptions and up to 80% of itemized deductions…taxes that result from adding Social Security benefits received back into income or having to pay higher monthly premiums on Medicare Part B (up to 3 times higher)…taxes that result from not being allowed the child tax credit or the deduction for IRA contributions. Then there are the 3.8% and 0.9% Medicare surtaxes. Not to mention the Alternative Minimum Tax where deductions for personal exemptions, Schedule A taxes (state, local, real estate, etc.) and non-acquisition mortgage interest is disallowed. People talk about tax breaks for the wealthy, but they never mention the tax breaks they don’t get. Dave Sauers
#2: We will no longer be viewing the U.S. Farm Report. Previously we had recorded the program so that we would not miss it. After hearing your comments on the stepped up basis, we are so disappointed in what you want to promote. The incentive to work and grow businesses is being destroyed. The number and the diversity of taxes we endure increase every year. We see government programs using the funds inefficiently and we see more and more citizens who are willing to do nothing but collect welfare.
#3: John, Warning!!! Telling the truth about our tax system can reduce your audience. Fred Lundgren
#4: John, I usually agree with you but there are many factors you’re missing in inflation. Inflation is jury rigged by the government in power and they are not counting food and energy - the two biggest sources of inflation. Let’s not forget the inflation of tuition and Obamacare, both are in the double digits at a minimum. Right now we are incurring about 10% – 20% annual inflation for those in the under 60 age group, as the over 60 are the beneficiaries of Obamacare and no college tuition. When I went to college 30 years ago tuition was $250/semester x two per year at CSUS. I was able to get a Pell grant for $250 / year and took out $5k in loans for all 5 years for living expenses, I did go to Sierra J.C. in Placer county CA., for two years at cost of $15/semester. I have already told my children that "unless you get a real degree in engineering or something that actually needs an upper education you are on your own." I will not fund a sociology degree or women's studies degree...What a waste of taxpayer and student money. Granted, the inflation of land prices are idiotic and non-sustainable as was the inflation in housing prices in 2004-08, there is NO REASON for it that is going to continue. There is the possibility that the federal govt. will "nationalize" large farms, unlikely now, but just wait if the "FED." keeps "printing" $85,000,000,000/month...we will have massive inflation and all those now dependent on the govt. crying for justice and equality. I do agree on you with the group that gets "capital" gains as actual normal income like those on Wall street and CEO’s that can manipulate the type of income they receive. Personally if you receive any income derived from the company you work for it should be "normal income", not manipulated from stock options as capital gains. Maybe we should just go to a simple tax system of income averaging over three years and 10% below $50,000/year, 20% from $50k –$1m and 30% above $1m/year. DO away with all subsidies and welfare, federal govt. just takes care of national defense and makes sure one group isn’t screwing another like monopolies and EPA (limit power so that no non-elected official can write laws or regulations) and get unions out of public employee groups, even FDR knew that would not work, there’s no competition and the politicians, especially democrats just bribe the public employees with OUR MONEY!! My ten cents worth (Inflation) - Les Odgers
#5: John, you are right on target about GMOSs. Let them label whatever they want. So called "organics" and "all natural" have their own following, but the marketplace (better said as price) finds a niche for everyone and in real terms, GMO means economies of scale and that means better price. It isn't as big of a deal as everyone thinks. And I must say this, Bill Biedermann's piece at the close of that segment was worth everyone hearing, farmer or not. He prefaced it by saying it was all on him, not reflecting Allendale or the station. I'm willing to bet any of the above and virtually all of your viewers would take it as their sentiments as well. Well said and Godspeed to his son-in-law, his family, and all the others involved in protecting all that we hold dear. John MacQueen - Randolph, MN
#6: Hello John - just a brief note to tell you how much I agree with you on most of your commentaries and statements. I catch your "US Farm Report" Sunday mornings at 6:00 out of Rockford, IL. I particularly enjoyed your comments this morning (Jan 12th). I am a Food Scientist by training (Iowa State), was raised on a farm, and still own the family farm in Iowa. First of all I agree that there is nothing wrong with GMO foods per se. On the other hand I have always believed in transparency, whether it’s in government, religion, families, or the food we eat. If there is really nothing wrong with GMO containing foods (and I don’t believe there is) what’s wrong with telling people that the food they eat may contain some GMO derived ingredients. Let them vote with their pocket books. I also believe that our tax laws need a major overhaul. If we eliminate all estate or inheritance taxes, then we should at least tax the capital gains involved in the inheritance. I have never understood why money we don’t physically labor for (capital gains) should be taxed differently that money for which we do labor. The typical argument is that capital gains taxes give people incentive to invest. By the same token does that mean that taxing labor at a higher rate gives people a disincentive to work? You are right; our tax system is viewed as unfair. It is hodgepodge of special interest laws that are patently unfair to those who can’t afford extremely high priced lobbyists. I admire your courage for expressing your views. I can’t believe you feel very welcome in group settings with wealthy farmers who obviously don’t share your opinions on many subjects. Keep up the good work. Jim Schultz
#7: As you ponder a plan B for the GMO contentious issue, the difficulties are enormous. Just being open to this discussion immediately will get you loud and personal criticism as being 'in the pocket' of Monsanto. If you attempt a mere rational discussion of actual facts, those who have hardened their positions are so fearful and full of hatred for seed companies they cannot be calm enough to have a fact based discussion. Whatever your plan B is, it will have to begin break down the fear, very slowly, step by step. Perhaps some innovative young artist or director can come up with a mix of humor and fact, in some clever series of sketches along with some ongoing 'man on the street' field interviews, being careful to factually educate the anecdotally uninformed opponents, while not endorsing any corporations, but by highlighting the benefits of advances in pest control and heartiness. Without a doubt looking at this will make frightened highly emotionally invested people uncomfortable and they will resist thinking critically because shedding fear and suspicion is not something people do readily. There will be blowback. There has to be some acknowledgement of concerns that seed companies act in secret creating more distrust. For the past 25 years they have been protecting their bio tech methods including the dreaded Monsanto Protection Act which was due to expire Dec. 2013. Farming is moving like all businesses are into more of a technological influenced process. We can educate ourselves about that process or pull the covers over our heads while shaking in our muck boots. You have a huge task Mr. Phipps it will take some doing. Al Babel – Corvallis, MT