Fitzmaurice questions Creed’s authority following stamp duty fiasco

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has suggested that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed’s authority is under question, following the stamp duty debacle during yesterday’s budgetary proceedings.

At a post-budget press conference, minister Creed openly stated that an increase in commercial stamp duty from 2% to 6% “would not apply to agricultural land”.

But, hours later it was confirmed that the new rates will affect agricultural land after the Dail voted in favour of the measure by 64 votes to 31 votes, with a further 41 abstentions.

However, those who have benefited from relief exemptions in the past will continue to do so.

A motion proposed by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, to exclude agricultural land from the increase was defeated in the Dail last night.

Fitzmaurice initially highlighted that farmers would be affected by the stamp duty hike on his Twitter page before the press briefing with minister Creed.

Speaking to AgriLand, Fitzmaurice, said:

It damages him; no doubt about it. It questions his credibility. Would it damage me if I was wrong? Yes it would and I’m not a minister.

“Whatever advice was given to Michael Creed yesterday evening was crazy. It’s going to make life difficult for him. I brought a solicitor into my own office with my staff because we had to make sure that what I was saying was right and we checked everything.

“I think this leaves Creed vulnerable; whatever advice he was given about the situation was insane to be honest about it,” he added.

A spokesman for minister Creed rebutted the criticism.

He stressed that a stamp duty rate of 1% will continue to apply for inter-family farm transfers for another three years under the consanguinity clause. A total exemption from stamp duty also remains in place for young qualified farmers.

The issue here is there is no change to the regime that has always been there. There has been no change in terms of how agricultural land is being treated from a relief point of view; the exemptions that have always been in place remain in place.

“Michael Fitzmaurice’s own proposal lacked credibility in the sense that it was an entirely new benefit which would have been subject to state aid rules and would, in fact, require EU permission to proceed with. So tabling it on the Dail on budget night and expecting it to pass in itself has no credibility,” he said.

When asked if the confusion surrounding the issue has left minister Creed vulnerable, the spokesman said: “Absolutely not; absolutely not”.