Young farmer tax relief cap to create ‘huge stress’

The decision to introduce a cumulative lifetime cap of €70,000 on the amount of tax relief that can be availed of by farmers under certain measures is set to cause “huge stress” for young farmers, according to the national president of Macra na Feirme, James Healy.

The development was revealed by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, when Finance Bill 2018 was published last week.

It stated that the cap would apply to the amount of tax relief/credit that can be enjoyed by a farmer under the: young trained farmer stamp duty relief; the stock relief for young trained farmers; and the succession farm partnerships tax credit.

Both the young trained farmer stamp duty relief and the stock relief for young trained farmers were extended for a further three years – up until the end of 2021 – as part of Budget 2019.

Following the publication of the bill, Macra na Feirme has urged Minister Donohoe to clarify the additions that were included in last week’s Finance Bill with regards to young farmer stamp duty relief and young farmer stock relief.

Speaking on the issue, Macra’s James Healy said: “Many questions remain on this issue and we are seeking a meeting with Minister Donohoe to understand the full implications for young farmers.”

Young farmer stock relief is subject to a cap of €70,000 over four years, so this move has the potential to completely negate the benefit that young farmers have availed of through young farmer stamp duty relief, Macra warned.

Continuing, Healy said: “There are tens of thousands of young farmers who have based business plans and loan applications on the basis that these benefits would be available.

With the uncertainty created by Brexit around the corner, this move will create huge stress for young farmers who put together sustainable business plans, only to have the rug pulled from under their feet.

While Macra appreciates that this cap is based on European state aid rule and has been in place since 2014, it has called for a delay in its implementation in the near future.

“Considering it has never been implemented and we are only a few months away from Brexit, this announcement has understandably come as a shock to young farmers around the country.

“We are facing an uncertain future and in turbulent times you want to avoid as many shocks as possible, which is why delaying its implementation at an Irish level must be seriously considered,” Healy concluded.