Speaking in the Dail today, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said that we must not gamble with the future and that the Government will not take chances that destabilise the recovery.

The Minister for Finance stated how important the farming and agri-food sector is to the economy.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been allocated €1.3 billion in Budget 2016.

Minister Noonan’s Budget announcement for the Agri-Food sector:

It is not just the sheer economic importance of a sector that is responsible for over 12% of our exports and 169,000 jobs, it is the fact that this economic activity and these jobs are located across the length and breadth of our country.

Consequently, I am announcing:

  • Extension of the general stock relief, the stock relief for young trained farmers, the stock relief for registered farm partnerships and the stamp duty exemption for young trained farmers for a further three years to the end of 2018.
  • Introducing a new succession transfer proposal to provide increased certainty about the timing of the transfer of a family farm to the next generation of farmers. This will greatly assist with long-term planning and farm productivity.
  • The proposal, which is subject to state aid approval, will allow two people, for example family members, to enter into a partnership with an appropriate profit-sharing agreement which makes provision for the transfer of the farm to the younger farmer at the end of a specified period, not exceeding ten years.
  • To support this transfer, an income tax credit worth up to €5,000 per annum for five years will be allocated to the partnership and split according to the profit-sharing agreement.

The only tax increase in Budget 2016 was on cigarettes, which will increase by €0.50 per packet of 20 to €10.50.

The rates of USC are to be reduced and thresholds adjusted:

  • 1.5% rate cut to 1% (On the first €12,012 of income).
  • 3.5% rate cut to 3%. (On income in excess of €12,012 up to an increased threshold of €18,668).
  • 7% rate to 5.5%. (On income in excess of €18,668 up to €70,044).

The Capital Acquisitions Tax threshold for transfers from parent to child is to increase from €225,000 to €280,000.

Minister Noonan announced that the pension levy will also be abolished from the end of 2015. The Government has also moved to introduce an earned income tax credit of €550 for self-employed people, including farmers.

There will be a reduction in the commercial motor tax rates; the maximum rate of commercial motor tax will be €900 per annum, down from €5,195, the Minister said.

As part of Budget 2016 statutory minimum wage to increase to €9.15 per hour.

The Government announced that there will be free childcare between ages three and five and a half or until the child starts primary school.