Farmers seek tax deposit scheme to help with income volatility

Proposal part of pre-budget submission by IFA to Oireachtas committees this week

Irish Farmers’ Association general secretary Pat Smith and president Eddie Downey at the association’s pre-budget submission yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Irish Farmers’ Association general secretary Pat Smith and president Eddie Downey at the association’s pre-budget submission yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 01:00

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) wants the Government to introduce a tax deposit scheme to help members cope with income volatility caused by weather extremes and product price fluctuations.

The organisation has proposed a system that would allow a farmer place some of their pre-tax income on deposit in a designated farming account. In low-profit years, this could be drawn down and used for the running of the business.

The income would be taxed when drawn down and not when earned.

The proposal is contained in a pre-budget submission that the IFA will present to the Oireachtas committees on finance and agriculture this week.

The submission also calls for a “phased transfer partnership model” to provide tax relief during the transfer of a farm from one generation to the next. The IFA is also seeking the retention of the 90 per cent agricultural relief on the intergenerational transfer of family farms.

In addition, the organisation has called for the retention of the pay-and-file deadline of October 31st for self-assessed individuals, as well as the simplification of income tax returns for farmers with low turnover.

IFA president Eddie Downing also called for €500 million to support the new rural development scheme to come from October’s budget.

This would pay out on a range of farm schemes next year, Mr Downey said.

On expenditure, the IFA hopes to see the start of contracts for the environmental Glas scheme (which rewards farmers for providing environmental benefits) in 2015. It wants 30,000 farmers to be allowed into the scheme in its first year, with payments made in 2015.

It is seeking a €30 million allocation in the budget for targeted agricultural modernisation schemes to fund on-farm investment programmes.

The IFA has also proposed that €52 million be allocated to the beef genomic scheme (which collects genotypes on certain animals to improve the quality of beef) in 2015. The organisation says the new scheme of €80 per cow/calf on 650,000 animals, involving €52 million funding, is a positive move for the suckler sector.