Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Farm partnerships hard to ignore following changes in the Budget


Changes in this year's Budget and last year's mean that farm partnerships are now hard to ignore from a tax point of view.

That's the view of Damien O'Sullivan, director at accountancy practice Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon.

He said in recent years significant changes have been introduced in successive budgets in order to promote the development of the farming sector and in particular the transition of the farm to the next generation.

In last year's Budget Finance Minister Michael Noonan made major changes to the capital gains tax regime for farmers, and also extended the benefits of registered farm partnerships beyond the dairy sector.

This year's Budget contains proposals to introduce a tax credit of up to €5,000 a year for five years for farming partnerships.

A farm partnership is simply a pooling of resources by two or more people in order to benefit from the synergies that may be achieved.

Assuming that one of the partners qualifies as a "young trained farmer" there are financial advantages to be enjoyed as well as the commercial benefits, Mr O'Sullivan said.

"From a commercial perspective the forming of a partnership with a family member should encourage him/her to take a more active part in the operation of the business.

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"It offers them an opportunity to cut their teeth in the business world while giving you the reassurance of being able to contribute to every decision."

Having the benefit of your contribution can only help to prepare him/her for the day they assume full control of the farm, the accountancy expert said.

In addition, the prospect of participating in the profits of the enterprise should encourage him/her to ensure that each decision is made with a keen eye on the bottom line profit.

"The financial advantages of a registered farm partnership are difficult to ignore," Mr O'Sullivan said.

A registered farm partnership will enjoy both taxation benefits as well as an enhanced entitlement to department of agriculture payments.

From a tax perspective the sharing of the farming profits between a parent and child should see a reduction in the overall tax liability.

Assuming your child is single they will pay tax at 20pc on the first €33,800 of their share of the farm profits.

If your spouse has no income you will pay tax at 20pc on the first €42,800.

This means that farming profits of up to €66,600 could be charged to tax at the 20pc rate. If your spouse was also to become a partner in the business that figure could be as high as €101,400.

Enhanced stock relief is also available to registered farm partners, Mr O'Sullivan said.

A young trained farmer will enjoy stock relief of 100pc of the increase in value of livestock for the first four years. You too will also benefit from 50pc stock relief, an increase from the normal rate of 25pc. However, there are limits on the value of the relief that may be claimed.

Registered farm partnerships can qualify for a basic payment scheme top-up (25pc) of up to €60 on the first 50 activated entitlements. This can amount to a payment of €3,000 for up to five years.

In addition, if the young trained farmer owns or leases land that has no, or even low level entitlements, they can apply to have new entitlements allocated (or low level entitlements topped up) out of the national reserve. In terms of capital expenditure a registered farming partnership can qualify for enhanced levels of grant assistance for qualifying capital expenditure.

Before any of the benefits outlined above will apply the partnership must be properly constituted. This will involve:-

a) registering the partnership with the inspector of taxes,

b) drawing up a partnership agreement and an on farm agreement,

c) adding the new entrants name to the herd number,

d) opening up a partnership bank account,

e) Registering the partnership on the DAFM register.

If you do proceed with a partnership there is a grant available to assist with the cost of professional fees incurred in setting up the farming partnership. The grant, which is paid at the rate of 50pc of the cost incurred, in subject to a maximum payment of €2,500.

While the benefits outlined above are many, a farm partnership is not something to be rushed into.

It may be worth considering waiting until the details of the new €5,000 tax credit are available to see if this may be of benefit to the business. Time should be taken to get good legal and tax advice to ensure that your circumstances are suited to a partnership which is, after all, a binding legal agreement.

Irish Independent