Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who Is a Farmer, CRP Version

Farmgate has a piece, passing on concerns about whether IRS is going to require absentee landowners of CRP land to pay self-employment tax on the CRP payments. This is more complex than I can handle at my advanced age, though I'm amused by the possibility that retired farmers have been trying to have their cake and eat it too. (We expect better of farmers, don't we.) There's a reference back to the 1983 Payment-in-Kind program and IRS handling of those payments. (There was an option then to put your whole farm into the PIK program--which raised all sorts of questions about reducing numbers of tenants, which in turn twanged guitar strings that reached back to 1930's era questions about fair treatment of tenants, which involved some of the communists who then walked the hallways of USDA.) The issue then was, if the farmer doesn't have to do anything, is he or she really a farmer? To share in some USDA payments, you have to be really a farmer, but maybe the IRS says, if you're really a farmer, then you are self-employed and your revenue is subject to the self-employment tax.

Who knows. It's all an amusing mess for me, if not for the people who have to employ accountants and lawyers to straighten it out.

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