Thune: The Death Tax Looms Over South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers

Thune: The Death Tax Looms Over South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers

“Many of the farmers and ranchers in my state know that without careful and costly planning, the federal government will come around after their death demanding a staggering 40 percent of their estate, and their children won’t have the money to pay without risking the farm or ranch.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week discussed an important objective of the Senate Republicans’ pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform legislation: repealing the death tax. Thune explained that South Dakota farmers and ranchers spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to avoid the death tax and preserve their family farms for generations to come – wasted resources that could be used to reinvest back into the business, create new jobs, and increase wages. If these owners don’t plan accordingly and take costly steps to avoid being hit by the death tax, their family might have no choice but to sell off land to pay the government – which means losing income-generating property or the entire family-run farm or ranch.

In January 2017, Thune introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act, which can be found here. To learn more about Thune’s work on tax reform, please visit the tax reform section on

30 Replies to “Thune: The Death Tax Looms Over South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers”

  1. The Sage

    “A staggering 40% of their estate.”

    I think he meant 0% up to the first $5.5 million for individuals and up to the first $11 million for couples. The truth doesn’t sound quite as dramatic as “a staggering 40% of their estate” but facts are stubborn things.

    1. Emoluments Clause

      Thank you Sage!!!!

      Just how much longer are John and Kristi going to kick this dead horse’s head, when it comes to estate taxes, I must ask? Because the dead horse is the only genuine “Death” in this phony estate tax debate.

      I noticed that they have a new angle though. Now they are complaining about the fees the wealthy pay through trust fund administration costs (Thanks to South Dakota’s “Trus-Fund Baby” opportunities), in order, to hide from the federal estate tax. But those costs are merely a meager part of the capitalizing interest that the wealthy make off their capital wealth each year…. Oh boy, how tough for them it must be… 😉

      1. Anon

        The average cost of non-irrigated crop land is $2,444/acre. Which means any farming operation, on average, with more than 4,500 acres surpasses that 11-million mark. That’s not including cattle, equipment, buildings, homes, and everything else that goes along with agriculture. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take all that much for a family farm to be worth more than 11 million.

        1. Ike

          The average farm size in SD is like 1400 acres. If you own more than 7 square miles of premium farm land, I think you can afford the taxes.

          Also, has no one ever heard of estate planning? Cripes. You can pretty much avoid estate taxes with proper foresight and planning.

          All this “death tax” stuff is just to scare folks into thinking that their neighbor down the road is gonna lose the farm. What it’s actually trying to do is to keep people like Javanka Drumpf well fed and well away from the unwashed masses.

          Besides, what about picking yourself up by the bootstraps? Can’t make it if daddy don’t leave you a few million? I’d rather hang with people who made their own way rather than had it handed to them. Personal responsibility, anyone? ;-P

        2. Emoluments Clause

          Why not incorporate, so a given death doesn’t matter financially. It might also help to put your property in your spouses name too and adult children as well… To the degree that there is a legitimate issue – when it comes to estate taxes – it seems to me that it is more of a chauvinistic issue than a financial issue – especially when spouses are involved or not involved should we say….

        3. Anonymous

          Nice try, the average farm/ranch size in South Dakota is around 1300-1400 acres. Ranch acreage is valued significantly less then crop land. More help for the 1%, God knows they need it.

      2. KM

        Always fighting for the working class, huh, EC? Or do you call us the working poor; it’s getting harder to keep up with the Leftist word games.

        1. Emoluments Clause

          Thanks for noticing. You can’t fight for family values if you don’t fight for middle class values. Having 5.4 or 11 million in the bank isn’t membership in the middle class…

          1. KM

            Leftist word games at their finest. So, someone with 5.4 or 11 million doesn’t have family values? I guess if you’re talking about Hollywood or the DNC, you’re spot on. Or you’re saying my family has no values bc we oppose the Death Tax? Just want to make sure I understand so we can meet your standards.

            Do you ever wonder what people do with their money when it’s “in the bank”? Often I catch myself daydreaming for a herd of cattle like those chauvinistic, rich farmers. I bet you do too?

            1. Emoluments Clause

              So did you learn your trolling skills from some Russkie friends? Hahahaha…..

              Yes, I definitely believe that it is conceivable for a multi-millionaire to have family values. But the maintenance of family values within our society is highly dependent upon the maintenance of a strong middle class, however…

              Oh, and I am sorry, but I have never dreamed about buying a cow. But it would be fun to be a bull rider if I was younger….. 😉

  2. Anonymous

    It’s always nice to see liberals demanding that other people’s money should go to the government. The covetousness nature of liberalism is on display for all to see.

    1. Anonymous

      That might make sense for most industries but their isn’t an industry much like farming where all risk is placed on the shoulders of taxpayers and all profit is hidden within equipment and land purchases to avoid taxes. We support them in both good and bad years with more taxpayer dollars than we ever would get back through estate taxes….not to mention there are only a handful in SD that it actually applies to. Political posturing that will benefit way less than the richest 1%. It’s apparent where Thune and his minions loyalties sit.

  3. Anonymous

    I think Thune is nicely asking Rounds to stop saving Obamacare and opposing repeal of the death tax.

    Kristi and John are right on this. Rounds is great but he’s getting out there on some things lately.

  4. Anonymous

    The dreaded death tax has become a speaking point without resolution. The delegation has been railing on this for years with no solutions, but give really super speeches.

  5. Wazzzzuuppp

    Jesus I’m about ready to puke. When is Thune going to use his power to do something. Dusting off tires old press releases like this and his ridiculous (not to mention embarrassing) “get small” comment and finally his continued 100% support for Trump are enough to make me sick. Quit grandstanding, show some spine and start working with people. Get on board bipartisan stuff like the two year Obamacare fix and legislate. Yes, we know you hunt pheasants and go to sporting events back here in SD!! Enough already, get to work.

    1. Anonymous

      Thanks for the blasphemy of the day, W. Can’t you express yourself well enough without the language?

      1. Troy Jones

        Liberals try to cover up their lack of intellectual heft by being vile and insulting. It is all they got.

        It is really sad.

        1. KM

          Ha, he’s your President too. Still having a difficult time accepting him, every time you emerge from your safe space, Bam…President Donald J. Trump.

  6. Anonymous

    How about you compromise? and say that real property used in agriculture is exempt…that would end the death tax for farmers and ranchers…..but it keeps it on billionaires not in farm economy….

    Family farms protected but wealthy still pay otherwise

  7. Troy Jones

    For the record, I do not support the elimination of a tax paid on death. I think it can and should be a component of our tax code to insure a broad based tax code and reduce the income tax.

    That said, the stupidest argument for keeping it is “you can avoid it if you hire a good accountant and attorney.” Why would we have a law that just forces people to use accountants and lawyers. If what you say were true (it is substantially false), I will change my view on this tax.

  8. Troy Jones


    When EC and others like him make those statements, it only goes to drive voters away from their candidates. Do you think Billie Sutton could get more than 30% of the vote in his district if he thought/said stupid stuff like that? We need to encourage such commentary.

    1. KM

      I know, what was I thinking?/s

      Sometimes it’s just too easy. EC has definitely been slipping, he’s usually tougher than most, but we all have our bad days;)

  9. Springer

    I still remember Stephanie Herserth at a Sioux empire debate on this subject back in the day, and she stated something to the effect that the federal government deserved our money in the form of this tax or some such thing. I about fell off my chair, but that is the liberal mindset.

  10. Jaa Dee

    How can anybody not be furious with these lies ? Not just the lies, but his assumption that you people are sooo stupid to believe them.

  11. duggersd

    The entire idea of the government taking money from the heirs of people who have a lot of money is revolting in the first place. The estate has already paid taxes on the money during the lifetime of the person who has died. I always find it interesting that liberals believe the money/property in the estate belongs to the government. It does not belong to the government; it is confiscated by the government. I can remember when Joe Robbie died and his family sold the Dolphins because they could not afford to keep the team and pay the taxes.
    Whenever someone tells me certain people need to pay “their fair share”, I always want to know what “fair share” is. They never tell us that.

    1. Ree

      I agree duggersd. We have paid taxes on everything we own. Why should the government get the results of our hard work instead our children getting it?