IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle has said that while the proposed amendments to the Finance Bill represent some progress on agricultural taxation issues, more clarification is required to ensure that genuine part-time farmers are not unfairly excluded from Agricultural or Stamp Duty reliefs.
Mr Doyle said, “The proposed definition of a farmer to qualify for Agricultural Relief and Stamp Duty Consanguinity Relief has been extended to include farmers with an agricultural qualification, or who will get this qualification in the four years subsequent to farm transfer. This is a positive move, and an encouragement to the many young trained farmers who will make their career in farming. However, the requirement for all other farmers to spend not less than 50% of their normal working time farming remains”.
He continued, “IFA has made it very clear that an interpretation of the 50% normal working time rule could require a farmer with an off-farm job of 40 hours a week to work a further 40 hours on the farm to qualify for these reliefs. This is clearly unrealistic and unworkable. With 30% of farmers engaged in off-farm employment, there are many enterprises, which, due to scale and market returns, require an off-farm income to be viable. The farmers, who work on these enterprises, in the mornings, evenings and at weekends, are fully committed to farming and cannot be excluded from these reliefs. There must be immediate clarification that this definition is based on a normal working week, and is not individual to the farmer’s own working time.”
Mr Doyle said, “In relation to Stamp Duty Consanguinity Relief, following significant lobbying by IFA, it is proposed now that transfers between family members will qualify for the halving of Stamp Duty (from 2 to 1%) until the end of 2015, regardless of the age of the transferor. This will allow farm owners who are currently aged over 66 to make a farm transfer in the next 12 months and avail of the reduced Stamp Duty rate. From 1st January 2016, the 1% rate will only apply where the transferor is aged under 67. IFA had made clear that this age limit must be in line with the statutory pension age, in order that the farm owners (parents) can transfer the farm once they are in receipt of pension income.”
He concluded, “As the Oireachtas Finance Committee discuss the Finance Bill this week, it is critical that the Minister for Finance provides clarification that part-time farmers will not be excluded from availing of Agricultural and Stamp Duty Consanguinity reliefs”.