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ICBA Applauds Chairman Grassley for Rural Tax Relief Efforts

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2003) — The Independent Community  Bankers of America applauds Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), for advancing important tax relief and economic measures to bolster family farms and rural America. The Tax Empowerment and Relief for Farmers and Fishermen Act (S. 665) includes key recommendations suggested in ICBA 2003 tax study, "Community Bank Tax Relief & Simplification Options," and other initiatives to help rural America prosper.

Importantly, the bill allows income averaging for farmers who are caught by the alternative minimum tax problem, expands first-time farmer loans, or "Aggie Bonds," allows existing ethanol tax incentives to apply to smaller cooperatives; and reverses an IRS attempt to apply the self-employment tax to farmers' cash rental income.

The legislation includes a provision supported by ICBA in its 2003 tax study, namely allowing farmers and ranchers to contribute up to 20% of their income in a savings account, and deduct it in the same year. The FFARM account is intended to help improve risk management by providing a tax-advantaged incentive for farmers to save their earnings in good years so they will be available in down years. ICBA believes these accounts should be managed by FDIC insured institutions.

"Sen. Grassley's bill would help many farmers and ranchers better access low-cost capital they need to purchases farmland, equipment and buildings vital to farm or ranch operation and rural America," stated Paul Merski, ICBA's Chief Economist. ICBA also praises Chairman Grassley for his ongoing support of small business tax relief measures, including Subchapter S reforms and simplification and looks forward to working with the Chairman on legislation strengthening small businesses and rural economies.

ICBA is the nation's leading voice for community banks and the only national trade association dedicated exclusively to protecting the interests of the community banking industry. We aggregate the power of our members to provide a voice for community banking interests in Washington, resources to enhance community bank education and marketability, and profitability options to help community banks compete in an ever-changing marketplace. ICBA has 5,000 members with branches in 17,000 locations nationwide. Our members hold more than $526 billion in insured deposits, $643 billion in assets and more than $405 billion in loans to consumers, small businesses and farms. They employee nearly 231,000 citizens in the communities they serve. For more information, visit www.icba.org.