Calls for re­ver­sal of farm­ers’ in­creased stamp duty

The Irish Times - - Home News - HARRY McGEE Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

Min­is­ter for Fi­nance Paschal Dono­hoe is likely to re­verse the steep in­crease in stamp duty for non-res­i­den­tial land for a small group of farm­ers in­her­it­ing land from fam­ily mem­bers.

In Tues­day’s bud­get, Mr Dono­hoe an­nounced non-res­i­den­tial stamp duty was to in­crease from 2 per cent to 6 per cent with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Farm­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions re­acted with anger to the change, as all trans­ac­tions on farm land are now li­able for the new, higher rate.

How­ever, while the Ir­ish Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (IFA) has called for the in­crease to be re­versed for all land be­ing trans­ferred or sold to ac­tive farm­ers, any con­ces­sions are likely to fo­cus on a smaller group of farm­ers who are in­her­it­ing land from blood rel­a­tives.

Qual­i­fied farm­ers aged un­der 35, as well as those in­her­it­ing land from rel­a­tives aged 67 or younger, al­ready get ex­emp­tions or con­ces­sions on the tax.

The dif­fi­culty arises for farm­ers who are not un­der 35 and are re­ceiv­ing a farm trans­fer from a rel­a­tive aged over 67. Un­til Tues­day, they paid stamp duty of 2 per cent, but they are now li­able for a duty of 6 per cent.

Farm or­gan­i­sa­tions and Op­po­si­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives have high­lighted this group, say­ing that, overnight, they were faced with three­fold in­creases in their stamp duty bills.

The Ir­ish Farm­ers Jour­nal re­ported that a farmer’s son from Co Tip­per­ary, Bill Burke, whose fa­ther was aged over 67, saw his stamp duty bill for tak­ing over the farm rise from ¤25,000 to ¤75,000. “It makes it an un­payable amount,” he told the pub­li­ca­tion.

Mr Dono­hoe and Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Michael Creed have had sev­eral dis­cus­sions on the is­sue since Tues­day. Ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for Mr Creed, “both de­part­ments are com­mit­ted to ex­am­in­ing the age thresh­old in the con­text of the Fi­nance Bill”.

The Bill, which gives leg­isla­tive ef­fect to bud­getary changes, will be pub­lished next Thurs­day.

Tran­si­tion ar­range­ment

Mr Dono­hoe is also ex­pected to put in place in the Bill a tran­si­tion ar­range­ment to fa­cil­i­tate ven­dors who signed con­tracts be­fore bud­get day.

The IFA has called for a wider ex­emp­tion for agri­cul­ture.

IFA pres­i­dent Joe Healy said its ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil had re­solved that the old stamp duty of 2 per cent should ap­ply to all land go­ing to ac­tive farm­ers.

“The Fi­nance Bill must pro­vide for land that is pur­chased or trans­ferred and used for farm­ing, to re­main at the 2 per cent stamp duty rate,” he said.

This would ap­ply to farm­ers who wish to en­large their agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions by ac­quir­ing ad­di­tional farm land.

The Gov­ern­ment is not likely to ac­cede to the de­mand, ac­cord­ing to sources.

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