IRS: Drought-Stricken Farmers and Ranchers Have More Time to Replace Livestock

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell livestock due to drought may have an additional year to replace the livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

To qualify for relief, farmers or ranchers must have sold livestock on account of drought conditions in an applicable region. This is a county or other jurisdiction designated as eligible for federal assistance plus counties contiguous to it. The IRS Notice 2021-55 lists applicable regions in 36 states and one U.S. territory.

The 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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The sales must be solely due to drought, causing an area to be designated as eligible for federal assistance. Livestock generally must be replaced within a four-year period, instead of the usual two-year period. The IRS states it is authorized to further extend this replacement period if the drought continues.

The one-year extension, announced in the notice, gives eligible farmers and ranchers until the end of their first tax year after the first drought-free year to replace the sold livestock. Details, including an example of how this provision works, can be found in Notice 2006-82, available on

The IRS states it is providing this extension to eligible farmers and ranchers who sold livestock on account of drought conditions in an applicable region that qualified for the four-year replacement period, if the applicable region is listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions during any week between September 1, 2020, and August 31, 2021. This determination is made by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

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As a result, the IRS states eligible farmers and ranchers whose drought-sale replacement period was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021, in most cases now have until the end of their next tax year to replace the sold livestock. Because the normal drought-sale replacement period is four years, this extension impacts drought sales that occurred during 2017. The replacement periods for some drought sales before 2017 are also affected due to previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities.

More information on reporting drought sales and other farm-related tax issues can be found in Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide, available on

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