Calls to ‘level the playing field’ to eliminate ‘black economy’ contractors

There continues to be a huge element of ‘black economy’ activity in the contractor sector – and the Revenue Commissioners are failing to manage the situation to good and fair effect, according to the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI).

In a statement today, Wednesday, July 1, the contractor representative organisation outlined that the only way to eliminate the “black economy operators” is to “level the playing field”.

The FCI highlighted that many such operators are farmers’ sons working without VAT registration, employer registration or contractor insurance.

FCI believes that this can be “most effectively done by allowing the full amount of the VAT portion of all agricultural contractor invoices to be reclaimable by farmers”.

Alternatively, this can be “simplified by the adoption of a zero-rated VAT for all farm and forestry contractor services, reducing the administration burden on the office of the Revenue Commissioners”, the contractor group proposed.

This proposal was part of a letter written by the FCI to newly-appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Barry Cowen.

In the letter, the organisation requested that “the important role of contractors be taken into full consideration in the next Programme for Government and the Reform of the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] 2021-2027”.

The association is calling for the creation of a “national register” of farm and forestry contractors, as well as the inclusion of such contractors in eligibility for a carbon tax credit similar to farmers.