IFAC: Basic questions farmers should ask before submitting BPS applications

With the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application deadline of May 15 fast approaching, accountancy and financial advisory firm IFAC has offered some key advice to help farmers ensure that their submissions are watertight – to avoid headaches down the road.

Farmers have also been warned not to miss the deadline by IFAC chief executive John Donoghue.

Urging farmers, Donoghue said: “This is the most important deadline of the year for farmers. Don’t miss it or your farm could be in real trouble.

We know from working with farmers all over the country that the BPS is crucial to the financial viability of a lot of farms.

“If you miss the deadline or get the application wrong monies might be withheld for months, so you’ll want to avoid that.

“If you’ve bought, sold or leased land since your last BPS payment or if you’ve changed your farming structure in the past 12 months talk to an accountant to make sure you don’t miss out on monies due to you this year,” the IFAC chief stressed.

Donoghue added: “If you’re a farmer and you’re transferring the BPS to a new entity like a limited company, partnership or joint herd, make sure that both your accountant and agri advisor know what’s happening.

“One of the most common mistakes we find with farmers changing business structure is neither the accountant nor the agri advisor have full knowledge of the changes taking place.”

This can have very serious implications for both Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, the chief executive noted, and could result in significant taxes and losses in BPS if completed incorrectly. Farmers shouldn’t take any risks.

Continuing, Donoghue said: “Engage a good advisor to help fill out the BPS application and it will be money very well spent considering the importance of the payment to the financial wellbeing of the farm.”

Key questions to ask

IFAC has offered the following key advice for farmers on the BPS application procedure.

Farmers should be asking themselves and their advisors a few basic questions before submitting their BPS applications, IFAC added.

These include:
  • Am I farming more/less land than last year?
  • Am I leasing in/out land that wasn’t previously on the application?
  • If leasing in/out new land have I leased in/out the BPS correctly with this land?
  • Have I bought/sold/inherited/gifted land in the last year and have I transferred in BPS correctly?
  • Have I declared all of the land I am farming correctly on my BPS application?
  • Have I changed farming structure – limited company, registered farm partnership, joint herd number?

If the farming structure has been changed, IFAC stresses that you must transfer BPS to the new structure – farmers should always seek their accountant’s advise on how to transfer BPS so as not to inadvertently incur taxes.

In addition, one should ensure that all land has been correctly declared in the name of the new business structure.