Clarification sought on arrangements for ‘retrograde’ stamp duty increase

Significant concerns remain among farmers in relation to the proposed transition arrangements around the increase in stamp duty, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICSMA).

According to Lorcan McCabe, chairperson of the ICMSA’s Farm Business Committee, the importance of the issue is such that clarification must be provided on the matter.

The transition refers to the increase in stamp duty on non-residential property from 2% to 6%, and how these will be implemented by the Revenue Commissioners.

McCabe said that two issues are particularly concerning for farmers. Firstly, in relation to contracts, he said it is important that farmers qualify for the 2% stamp duty rate in cases where deposits on land were paid before the Budget 2018 announcement

The ICMSA spokesperson cited cases where a farmer may have purchased land at a public auction, paid the deposit on the day and the final documents may not have been signed.

In those circumstances, the farmer purchased the land on the assumption of 2% stamp duty. The deposit has been paid on that basis and where the farmer can provide evidence of this, it is only fair and reasonable that these farmers should qualify for the 2% stamp duty rate, he said.

The second instance was the proposal that in order to qualify for the 2% rate the sale must be completed by year end. McCabe said while, in theory, this sounded reasonable it ignored the reality that, in practice, delays outside of the control of the farmer can often occur – usually in relation to legal matters.

It would be “grossly unfair” if a farmer suffered an effective 4% penalty due to circumstances absolutely outside of his or her control and the ICMSA is calling for some reasonable flexibility on this matter, McCabe said.

The chairperson stated that the imposition of the 6% stamp duty on future land sales was, in itself, a major blow to farmers seeking to restructure or build their holding to a viable level, adding that the minimum recognition required is some degree of concession and clarification for those caught in the midst of transactions.

Concluding, McCabe said that the situation requires clarification and the onus is on those introducing this “retrograde” step to provide it.