As the issue surrounding VAT refunds for unregistered farmers continues into 2024, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) representative, Frank Brady has called for “immediate action” from the government.

Revenue stated that there is no change in regulations surrounding VAT refunds, but in the last two months farmers have raised the issue of not receiving VAT back for certain items, where they would have in the past.

Brady said that farmers regularly purchase assets at the beginning of, or throughout the year, and wait until December time to send invoices away, “to make things easier for the department”.

“Farmers were trying to work with the department, but this is just another example of rural Ireland being treated with total disregard,” he said.

Refund issues

The regional chair said he has heard from many farmers that are now not receiving VAT relief for automatic calf feeders.

He said that work is being done to encourage farmers to keep their calves for longer, but that automatic feeders are “necessary” to do this.

“It’s like we’re talking out both sides of our mouth,” Brady said.

The current VAT laws allow for unregistered farmers to claim a refund on VAT for the construction, extension, alteration or reconstruction of farm buildings or structures.

While there is no mention of the word “fixed” in legislation, it was a common “understanding” between farmers, according to IFA farm business executive, Karol Kissane.

Brady added that he heard from farmers, who are now unable to claim VAT back on meal bins, bulk tanks and barriers in sheds.

“You hear of all the incidents involving meal bins when they are moved, so why would we encourage that.

“And I’ve never seen anyone on a dairy farm, put in place a bulk tank and then decide to move it down the road,” Brady said.

VAT action

Brady said that the change in interpretation of VAT rules will “affect all farmers at some point”.

He said that most farmers receive compensation from Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) on such purchases after VAT is taken away, therefore this will change the percentage of payment received via TAMS.

Brady added that the Department of Finance needed to take “more action”, and that the IFA would meet with the department.

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain,” Brady said.

He added that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should intervene.

“Varakdar is supposed to be the leader and can not bury his head in the sand this time,” Brady said.