Analysis: Confusion over policy that was not rural-proofed
Minutes after Paschal Donohoe finished his Budget speech a rural senator was in a flap on the Leinster House plinth.
He’d received a phonecall from a friend wanting to know whether the hike to commercial stamp duty would impact on farms.
The Fianna Fáil politician spotted a Cabinet minister emerging from the building and made a b-line.
“Oh no, we’d won’t do that,” was the reply from the minister when asked if the sale of farms would be hit.
The consensus was that Mr Donohoe wouldn’t target farmers in such a way. More than most they tend to get up early in the morning.
At a press conference Agriculture Minister Michael Creed publicly expressed a similar view, saying: “We need to nail this one, because I’ve seen some commentary on social media. The increase in stamp duty does not apply to agricultural land.”
However, it is now clear that it does. Existing exemptions from normal stamp duty where the sale is within a family or for young trained farmers will continue to apply. In other words a two-tier system has been created where under 35s will pay tens of thousands less for farmland than older farmers.
A common scenario which sees a farmer retire and their neighbour buy up some of the land to extend their own acreage will now be subject to 6pc stamp duty.