Farming organisations have welcomed the majority of announcements on the sector in yesterday’s Budget.
IFA President Joe Healy said Budget 2017 responded positively to IFA’s farm income campaign with significant measures on low-cost loans, increased funding for farm schemes, the reversal of cuts to Farm Assist and flexibility on income averaging to help deal with volatility.
However, he said the decision not to start the restoration of ANC funding in 2017 was disappointing, given the very difficult income situation this year.
Joe Healy concluded by saying, “The decision to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit by only €400 to €950 falls short of the €1,650 PAYE allowance and this must be reached in next year’s Budget to remove discrimination against farmers and the self-employed”.
While welcoming many of the announcements ICSA president Patrick Kent has also expressed disappointment that there seems to be a slowdown in the commitment to bring equality in tax treatment for the self-employed. “Last year’s budget saw a €550 earned tax credit introduced with a commitment that the subsequent two budgets would also feature an additional €550, instead only €400 has been allocated.
Regarding the provision to allow farmers to opt out of income averaging Mr Kent said “This will be a help this year but a deeper examination of how to tax volatile incomes and the inequities around self-employed taxation is needed.”
Mr Kent also noted that the announcement of flood relief schemes was notable for the absence of any reference to the Shannon and he called for urgent action on this.
He concluded by saying “Regarding plans for consultation on sugar tax, such measures are useless unless accompanied by a national strategy to increase consumption of milk by children instead and the promotion of healthier dietary options that include locally sourced fresh produce.”
Key agriculture measures in Budget 2017
New €150m agriculture cashflow support loan fund, at an interest rate of 2.95% to be available to farmers in all sectors.
New flexibility under income averaging, to be introduced for the current year, will allow farmers to opt out of averaging in an exceptional year. This will help farmers to manage the very difficult cashflow situation on farms this year.
€107m increase in funding of farm schemes under the Rural Development Programme
€69m increase for GLAS to €211m for 50,000 farmers
New €25m sheep welfare scheme
Re-opening of the Beef Genomics Programme, with funding of €52m for 2017
Funding of €50m for TAMS
€111.6m for forestry and €5m for horticulture
Reversal of cuts to Farm Assist, along with €5 per week increase, and the provision for 500 extra places under the Rural Social Scheme.
Increase of €400 to the Earned Income Tax Credit to €950
Excise rate on agri-diesel and all road fuels remains unchanged
The flat rate VAT refund has been increased to 5.4% from January 1st. This is worth €9m.
Farm restructuring relief from CGT has been extended to the end of 2019
CGT rate for disposal of business assets up to €1m has been reduced from 20% to 10%
The SEAI scheme for accelerated capital allowances for investment in energy efficient equipment has been extended to sole traders.