Revenue writing to 400 Kerry suppliers ‘ridiculous and wrong’

The Revenue writing to 400 Kerry Co-op milk suppliers telling them they must pay tax on shares they received has been labelled “ridiculous and wrong” by Independent TD Michael Healy Rae.

On Monday, 400 Kerry suppliers received letters with tax demands from the Revenue linked to patronage shares issued to them by Kerry Co-op during the period 2011 to 2013.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday, the Kerry South TD called on the Taoiseach to look into the issue.

“This is going completely against the programme for Government with regard to supporting agriculture. A total of 400 farmers received a letter, what is called an aspect query.

“I do not know whether the Taoiseach has ever received one of these, but I know what they are. They received an aspect query from the Revenue Commissioners with respect to Kerry Group shares received under the patronage arrangement.”

Healy Rae said that these farmers were of the belief this was not additional trading income to their families so it was not accounted for.

Now they are being told they must pay tax on it at a time when our dairy sector and our agricultural sector in general is on its knees, he said.

“I am very sorry our legendary Minister for Finance, for whom I have great respect as the Taoiseach knows, is not in the Chamber because I would like him to answer this question.”

I would like him to come back to us and tell us what in the name of God are the Revenue Commissioners doing to write out to 400 farmers out of the blue.

Responding to Healy Rae, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said that while the query is valid, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine does not control, and nor does the Minister for Finance control, the Revenue Commissioners who are completely independent.

“I will bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Finance, but he does not direct the Revenue Commissioners to do or not to do something,” he said.

Also Read: Tax bombshell for hundreds of Kerry milk suppliers

Also speaking in the Dail yesterday on the issue was Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan who said these tax demands are on farmers who have had a desperately difficult year.

He also said that it is widely known they will not be able to pay their commitments.

“The Revenue Commissioners have come down with a very heavy hand on the agricultural industry, and the Minister and the Government should take a proactive approach to it because it is absolutely unacceptable that Revenue is going after farmers in a way that makes no sense whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, the first TD to raise the issue yesterday was Kerry TD John Brassil, who said that “this very questionable tax demand will put many farmers out of business”.

The Revenue has said that the patronage shares must be regarded as trading income and subject to income tax, USC, and PSRI.

Tax demands vary in amounts between €15,000 to €30,000 and farmers who received the letters have been given 21 days to respond to the Revenue on the issue.