Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Senator Al Franken have introduced legislation to reverse a Supreme Court ruling that has made it harder for family farmers to reorganize their finances when they fall on hard times. The Family Farmer Bankruptcy Tax Clarification Act of 2013 would remedy a May 2012 Supreme Court ruling that said despite the express goal of Congress to help farmers – the language inserted into the Bankruptcy Code in 2005 conflicted with the Tax Code. The Grassley and Franken bill clarifies that bankrupt family farmers reorganizing their debts are able to treat capital gains taxes owed to a governmental unit – arising from the sale of farm assets during a bankruptcy – as general unsecured claims. It removes the veto power of the IRS over a bankruptcy reorganization plan’s confirmation – giving the family farmer a chance to reorganize successfully.
Grassley says Chapter 12 helps the farmer and the banker sit down and work out alternatives for debt repayment so a farmer can keep his land. He says there’s no question of the intent of Congress when the 2005 law was written. He says they simply need to ensure the plain language of the law says and does what they intended. Franken says the bill is a commonsense fix to ensure the law is carried out as intended so farmers going through bankruptcy can keep their land and repay the debts they owe in their communities.