Economic View: Budget's farming tax reliefs will only benefit a minority
Last week's Budget was welcomed as a good one for farmers, and the extra €550 for the self-employed certainly is good news. Even better is the fact that it is also Fianna Fáil policy to increase this allowance to the same level as the Employee Tax Credit of €1,650 during the life of the next government.
However, this is one of the few tax reliefs trumpeted by Minister Coveney for the farm sector that will have a real benefit across the vast majority of farming families.
By contrast the number of beneficiaries and the cost of income tax breaks specifically for farmers are relatively small.
I recently asked the Minister for Finance to give me the latest available details of the number of farmers who availed of the various income tax reliefs, and the cost of each relief.
The reply is as set out in the table below.
When you allow for the fact that some farmers will be availing of more than one relief, the figures show that only about 10pc of farmers are benefitting from the tax breaks.
Compared to the hundreds of millions that are dispersed to almost every farming household in the country, the sum benefits of these measures are tiny.
This proves that decisions on direct payments and schemes are significantly more important to the vast majority than specialised tax reliefs.