‘ANC welcome but tax changes disappointing for farmers’

The increased funding of €25 million for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme in Budget 2018 has been welcomed by ICSA (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association) President, Patrick Kent.

Kent described the move as “an important first step towards the full reinstatement of the scheme’s €257 million allocation prior to austerity cuts – which have severely impacted farmers on the lowest incomes.”

However, Kent was scathing in his response to the “minimal” increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the “derisory” reduction in the Universal Social Charge (USC).

“It is unacceptable that the commitment given to the self-employed to bring equality in tax treatment has gone by the wayside.

“This was supposed to happen over a three-year period – yet an increase of just €200 for 2018 still leaves a lot of ground to be made up,” Kent noted.

This minimal increase will leave farmers, and other self-employed, liable for an extra €500 income tax compared to employees where income exceeds €16,500.

On USC (Universal Social Charge), Kent said: “Despite there being the scope for material reductions in USC, Minister Donohoe has chosen to inflict the most derisory reductions to the charge on hard-working people.

“The quarter per cent reduction will deliver a lot less to people who get up early in the morning than has been allocated to the dole,” the president added.

It is important to note that USC is a very unfair tax on farmers who invest on their farms as the capital allowances available against income tax do not apply on USC.

Kent welcomed the announcement that land under solar panels would be classified as agricultural for the purposes of Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) relief and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) retirement relief, subject to certain limitations.

However, he lamented the fact that there was no increase in the thresholds for CAT liability, which remains at €310,000 for category A, €32,500 for category B and €16,250 for category C.