The government has been urged by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) to immediately “fix the mess it has made” with the Residential Zoned Land Tax (RZLT).

The tax at a rate of 3% of the land’s market value will come into force from February 2024, on land that is zoned for residential use and has access to services such as water supply, roads and lighting.

Last year Local Authorities published draft RZLT maps outlining which particular lands would be subject to the new tax. The final map of land will be published on December 1, 2023.

The ICSA demands that all active farmers who have been farming the land over the past five years are exempted from this tax, which its president Dermot Kelleher describes as a “land grab”.


Kelleher said the association is aware that many of those farmers who have applied to have the land de-zoned have been rejected which, the ICSA president said, is “not acceptable”.

“This tax is nothing less than a land grab which will destroy family farms that have committed no offence except to farm near cities, towns, and villages.

“From February 1, 2024, landowners, who are in the business of farming not property speculation, are being terrorised with a tax that they can’t possibly afford.

“This is grossly unfair and must be sorted now,” Kelleher said, demanding that any active farmer who has farmed land for the past five years should be entitled to have the land de-zoned.

By imposing the annual tax, he claimed that a farmer who has 20ac of land in the zoned area could face a tax of €60,000 per annum or worse, depending on how the land is valued.

“It is impossible to continue to farm that land and pay such a punitive and unaffordable tax,” the ICSA president said.

‘Dublin city problem’

Kelleher said the tax is an “ill-thought-out, knee-jerk response to a Dublin city problem”, and shows how “out of touch” the government is by imposing this tax outside of Dublin.

Some of the re-zoned areas are in remote, rural areas where the demand for housing development “doesn’t exist”, he said adding that there are also practical considerations.

“In some cases, the zoned land is adjacent to a farmyard where slurry and silage odours will make the zoned land unsuitable for large-scale housing.

“We also have an increasing trend of people who object to the noise of farm operations such as calves roaring at weaning time, early morning milking and tractor operations.

“None of this is properly considered in the rush to provide silver-bullet solutions to housing,” he said, as the tax will be introduced as part of the government’s Housing for All plan.