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Farmers and ranchers in most of U.S. get drought tax relief

Cattle in Big Bend area of West Texas_Kay Bell photo2
These cattle out in the West Texas Big Bend area don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their ranches' profitability. The IRS is once offering some ranchers and farmers special drought-related tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell)

I grocery shop every week and there are a few items that I always purchase. Beef is one of them. You're not surprised, are you? I am a Texan.

That consistent shopping list means I get week-to-week comparisons of my regular items. And, as other shoppers have noticed, meat prices, particularly for beef, are among those rising more than most other grocery items.

Even those of us who didn't study beyond economics 101, know what's happening. Supply and demand, with the beef industry being hammered over the past two years by a series of supply shocks.

COVID closures of processing plants. Slow restarting of those facilities when some, but not all, reopened. Higher wages to get workers into those plants.

And there's also fewer cattle. Herds have been devastated in recent years by drought, with 2021's aridness even worse than the dry weather in 2020. That's mean fewer feed crops for cattle.

That meant that ranchers were forced to sell their cattle earlier than they had planned, reducing herds and creating an added price pressure point.

Livestock sale tax troubles: While all this has been a pocketbook pain for us beef and other meat consumers, it's also a major financial and tax problem for the ranchers, as well as farmers who also have livestock.

By selling the animals, they triggered potential capital gains taxes. But the Internal Revenue Service is offering some livestock owners relief.

The agency announced last month that certain farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell livestock due to drought may have an additional year to replace the animals and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales.

This means that eligible farmers and ranchers now have four years to replace the stock, instead of the usual two-year period. The IRS also might further extend this replacement period if the drought continues.

Where it's too dry: To qualify for relief, the agricultural operations must have sold livestock on account of drought conditions in an applicable region.

This is a county or other jurisdiction designated by the National Drought Mitigation Center as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions during any week between Sept. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021.

US Drought Monitor map 28September2021
Latest drought conditions in the United States. Map via U.S. Drought Monitor.

Those locale specifics are in IRS Notice 2021-55, which lists the applicable regions in 36 states and one U.S. territory. But so that you don't have to click over there, below are the parched parcels by state.

Arizona counties of Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma.

Arkansas counties of Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington.

California counties of Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.

Colorado counties of Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Cheyenne, Clear Creek, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Delta, Denver, Dolores, Douglas, Eagle, Elbert, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, Jefferson, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, La Plata, Larimer, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Ouray, Park, Phillips, Pitkin, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel, Sedgwick, Summit, Teller, Washington, Weld, and Yuma.

Connecticut counties of Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland, and Windham.

Hawai'i counties of Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai, and Maui.

Idaho counties of Ada, Adams, Bannock, Bear Lake, Benewah, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Butte, Camas, Canyon, Caribou, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Franklin, Fremont, Gem, Gooding, Idaho, Jefferson, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lewis, Lincoln, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Oneida, Owyhee, Payette, Power, Shoshone, Teton, Twin Falls, Valley, and Washington.

Illinois counties of Boone, Christian, Cook, DeKalb, De Witt, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Lake, Logan, McHenry, Macon, Menard, Ogle, Piatt, Sangamon, Stephenson, and Winnebago.

Iowa counties of Adair, Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clay, Clayton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Dickinson, Dubuque, Emmet, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Linn, Lyon, Madison, Mahaska, Marshall, Mills, Mitchell, Monona, Montgomery, O'Brien, Osceola, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Sac, Shelby, Sioux, Story, Tama, Warren, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth, and Wright.

Kansas counties of Brown, Cheyenne, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Dickinson, Geary, Gove, Graham, Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Jackson, Jewell, Kearny, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Meade, Mitchell, Morton, Nemaha, Norton, Ottawa, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Republic, Riley, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Wabaunsee, Wallace, Washington, and Wichita.

Maine counties of Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo, Washington, and York.

Massachusetts counties of Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester.

Michigan counties of Alcona, Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Benzie, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Leelanau, Livingston, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Ottawa, Saginaw, Saint Clair, Saint Joseph, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Van Buren, Washtenaw, and Wexford.

Minnesota counties of Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, Saint Louis, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.

Mississippi counties of Grenada, Leflore, Quitman, Tallahatchie, and Yalobusha.

Missouri counties of Atchison, Barry, Barton, Cedar, Christian, Dade, Douglas, Greene, Holt, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Polk, Stone, Taney, Vernon, and Webster.

Montana counties of Beaverhead, Big Horn, Blaine, Broadwater, Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Chouteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Deer Lodge, Fallon, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Garfield, Glacier, Golden Valley, Granite, Hill, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, Lincoln, McCone, Madison, Meagher, Mineral, Missoula, Musselshell, Park, Petroleum, Phillips, Pondera, Powder River, Powell, Prairie, Ravalli, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sanders, Sheridan, Silver Bow, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Teton, Toole, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux, and Yellowstone.

Nebraska counties of Adams, Antelope, Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Boyd, Buffalo, Burt, Butler, Cass, Cedar, Chase, Cherry, Cheyenne, Clay, Colfax, Cuming, Custer, Dakota, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dixon, Dodge, Douglas, Dundy, Franklin, Frontier, Furnas, Gage, Garden, Garfield, Gosper, Grant, Greeley, Hall, Hamilton, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Holt, Howard, Jefferson, Johnson, Kearney, Keith, Keya Paha, Kimball, Knox, Lancaster, Lincoln, McPherson, Madison, Merrick, Morrill, Nance, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Perkins, Phelps, Pierce, Platte, Red Willow, Richardson, Rock, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sherman, Sioux, Stanton, Thayer, Thurston, Valley, Washington, Wayne, Webster, and Wheeler.

Nevada counties of Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Pershing, Storey, Washoe, and White Pine, as well as the municipality of Carson City.

New Hampshire counties of Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan.

New Mexico counties of Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, Curry, DeBaca, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Guadalupe, Harding, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, Roosevelt, Sandoval, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union, and Valencia.

New York counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Saint Lawrence, and Suffolk.

North Carolina counties of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, and Scotland.

North Dakota counties of Adams, Barnes, Benson, Billings, Bottineau, Bowman, Burke, Burleigh, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Divide, Dunn, Eddy, Emmons, Foster, Golden Valley, Grand Forks, Grant, Griggs, Hettinger, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McHenry, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Sheridan, Sioux, Slope, Stark, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward, Wells, and Williams.

Oklahoma counties of Atoka, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Choctaw, Cimarron, Coal, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Grady, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnston, Kiowa, Love, Major, Marshall, Murray, Roger Mills, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods, and Woodward.

Oregon counties of Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, and Yamhill.

Pennsylvania counties of Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, and Union.

Rhode Island counties of Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence, and Washington.

South Carolina counties of Calhoun, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg.

South Dakota counties of Aurora, Beadle, Bennett, Bon Homme, Brookings, Brown, Brule, Buffalo, Butte, Campbell, Charles Mix, Clark, Clay, Codington, Corson, Custer, Davison, Day, Deuel, Dewey, Douglas, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Grant, Gregory, Haakon, Hamlin, Hand, Hanson, Harding, Hughes, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jackson, Jerauld, Jones, Kingsbury, Lake, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lyman, McCook, McPherson, Marshall, Meade, Mellette, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Perkins, Potter, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Stanley, Sully, Todd, Tripp, Turner, Union, Walworth, Yankton, and Ziebach.

Texas counties of Andrews, Angelina, Aransas, Armstrong, Atascosa, Austin, Bailey, Bandera, Bastrop, Baylor, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Borden, Bosque, Brazoria, Brazos, Brewster, Briscoe, Brooks, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Callahan, Cameron, Carson, Castro, Cherokee, Childress, Clay, Cochran, Coke, Coleman, Collin, Collingsworth, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Culberson, Dallam, Dallas, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Denton, DeWitt, Dickens, Dimmit, Donley, Duval, Eastland, Ector, Edwards, Ellis, El Paso, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Frio, Gaines, Galveston, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Gray, Grayson, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hale, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Hardin, Harris, Hartley, Haskell, Hays, Hemphill, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Hockley, Houston, Howard, Hudspeth, Hunt, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Johnson, Jones, Karnes, Kaufman, Kendall, Kenedy, Kent, Kerr, Kimble, King, Kinney, Kleberg, Knox, Lamb, Lampasas, La Salle, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Lipscomb, Live Oak, Llano, Loving, Lubbock, Lynn, McCulloch, McLennan, McMullen, Madison, Martin, Mason, Matagorda, Maverick, Medina, Menard, Midland, Milam, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Montgomery, Motley, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Nolan, Nueces, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parker, Parmer, Pecos, Polk, Potter, Presidio, Randall, Reagan, Real, Reeves, Refugio, Roberts, Robertson, Rockwall, Runnels, San Jacinto, San Patricio, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Somervell, Starr, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Walker, Ward, Washington, Webb, Wheeler, Wilbarger, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Winkler, Wise, Yoakum, Young, Zapata, and Zavala.

Utah counties of Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Carbon, Daggett, Davis, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Morgan, Piute, Rich, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Wasatch, Washington, Wayne, and Weber.

Vermont counties of Addison, Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor.

Washington counties of Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Island, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skagit, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima.

Wisconsin counties of Burnett, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, La Crosse, Lafayette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Ozaukee, Pierce, Polk, Racine, Richland, Rock, Saint Croix, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha.

Wyoming counties of Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Niobrara, Park, Platte, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta, Washakie, and Weston.

United States Virgin Islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas.

Well, that was depressing seeing all the counties in the Lone Star State where the hubby and I and our relatives have (and do) live on the sun-fried list.

Drought tax relief conditions and limits: Unfortunately, many livestock owners are well aware of the IRS relief. Over other unusually dry years, such as in 2019 and 2020, the IRS has offered similar tax relief.

Then and now, this special capital gains tax relief generally is available to farmers and ranchers who are in designated drought areas and who realized capital gains on sales of livestock that were due solely to the severely dry conditions.

There also are a couple of other important conditions and limits that apply.

The tax relief is available only in connection with sales of stock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, or poultry, are not eligible.

So livestock owners who are sending cattle to meat packing plants early, and ultimately to my grocery store's refrigerated meat section, are, for the most part, do not qualify for this relief.

But those farmers and ranchers who are eligible and whose drought-sale replacement period was scheduled to expire at the end of this year (Dec. 31, 2021), now have until the end of their next tax year to replace the sold livestock.

Details, including an example of how the tax relief works, can be found in IRS Notice 2006-82, as well as in the IRS' livestock drought tax relief tax tip.

You also might find these items of interest:

 

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