The increase in stamp duty announced in Budget 2018 earlier this week has largely been met with a furious response from various Irish farming organisations and stakeholders in agriculture.

President of the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) Joe Healy stressed that agricultural land must be excluded from the new measure – which saw the stamp duty rate jump from 2% to 6%.

The decision to extend the reduced stamp duty rate of 1% for transfers between family members, and to maintain the young trained farmer stamp duty exemption, is positive Healy said – as these measures are very important to support the timely and structured transfer of family farms.

According to the ICMSA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association), the imposition of a 6% stamp duty rate on farmland sales is a “seriously backward move that will impact very negatively” on those small and medium-sized farmers “trying to purchase some land in order to improve the viability of their farms into the future”.

President of the ICMSA John Comer, in light of this, has called for the introduction of a provision in the context of the Finance Bill that will address this issue for farmers.

Comer said that the decision to impose such a charge on a family farm buying even a small piece of land stands in very sharp contrast to the concession given to property developers, where a developer will get a refund of the stamp duty if development commences within 30 months.

“We’ve a situation where developers spending millions buying land – and likely to make very substantial profits from house building – will qualify for a refund, while a family farm perhaps buying a small piece of land, and taking out a loan over maybe 20 years to pay for the land, will be hit with a 6% stamp duty rate with absolutely no refunds.

“The ICMSA is calling for the inclusion of a provision in the Finance Bill that deals with this manifestly unfair aspect of the increase in stamp duty announced in the budget,” Comer concluded.

Meanwhile, the president of the ICSA (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association), Patrick Kent, described the increase in stamp duty on non-residential assets from 2% to 6% as “completely over the top” and said this would have a big impact on people trying to consolidate farm holdings.

Sinn Fein’s agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny, added that: “It’s a bit of a problem; but measures do remain in place for young farmers and family transfers.

“I would hope the money that would be raised from this increase would be invested back into rural Ireland.”

The fact that a reduced stamp duty rate of 1% remains in place for inter-family land transfers under the consanguinity clause and that a full exemption continues to be given to young qualified farmers rules out a lot of transactions, he explained.

The fact that a land tax was not introduced for large conglomerates who purchase and hold land banks of over 750ac disappointed Independent TD Mattie McGrath.

While, the increase in stamp duty is damaging to small farmers who may be looking to expand their operations, he added.