Farmers and ranchers affected by drought have extra time to sell livestock

Drought can be devastating to farmers and ranchers. Those who were forced to sell livestock due to drought may get extra time to replace the livestock. They may also have more time to defer tax on any gains from the forced sales.

Here are some facts to help farmers understand how the deferral works and if they are eligible.

  • The one-year extension gives eligible farmers and ranchers until the end of the tax year after the first drought-free year to replace the sold livestock.
  • The farmer or rancher must be in an applicable region. An applicable region is a county designated as eligible for federal assistance, as well as counties contiguous to that county.
  • The farmer’s county, parish, city or district included in the applicable region must be listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions by the National Drought Mitigation Center. All or part of 32 states, plus Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, are listed. The list of applicable regions is in Notice 2019-54 on IRS.gov.
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  • The relief applies to farmers who were affected by drought that happened between Sept. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019.
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  • This relief generally applies to capital gains realized by eligible farmers and ranchers on sales of livestock 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.
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  • To qualify, the sales must be solely due to drought, flooding or other severe weather causing the region to be designated as eligible for federal assistance.
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  • The farmers generally must replace the livestock within a four-year period, instead of the usual two-year period.
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  •  Because the normal drought sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately effects drought sales that occurred during 2015. However, because of previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these areas, the replacement periods for some drought sales before 2015 are also affected.
  • Details, including an example of how this provision works, can be found in Notice 2006-82 on IRS.gov.

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