Many farmers will be forced to sell land as they will not be able to afford a planned new residential zoned land tax (RZLT) announced by the Government last year, the IFA has warned.
The IFA also raised fears that local authorities in the future will acquire lands by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) at discounted rates.
In a submission to Government on the tax, the IFA said that while it was fully aware of the housing challenges, it strongly opposes the inclusion of land that forms an integral part of existing farm operations.
It said this was particularly the case where the zoned status of the land was provided without any explicit consent, action or intent of the part of the land owner.
“Farmers hold land to farm, not hoard it as an investment — demonstrated by strong inter-generational transfer and limited volumes traded annually,” it said.
“Thousands of farmers have land being encroached upon by towns and villages around Ireland that may be both zoned residential and serviced, and in many cases, the farmer is unaware of the zoned status of their farm land and their potential liability to the new tax.”
The IFA suggested that local authorities must get explicit consent of the farmer to zone the land for residential development before exposing them to what it called a “serious tax liability”.
It also said the practice of “hiding a zoning change proposal in plain sight” is disingenuous and takes advantage of people not directly involved in, or aware of land development — typically small family farmers — and must stop.
“A right to be unzoned”, the IFA said, must be secured, especially near smaller urban centres with less housing pressures.
It is also demanding a legislative clause that such lands cannot be subsequently acquired by local authorities by CPO.
“This needs to be explicitly provided for in the legislation,” the IFA said. “There are significant concerns among farmers that if they wish to continue farming, and get their zoned lands de-zoned, local authorities will subsequently acquire lands by CPO at discounted rates — ie, agricultural rates rather than zoned land rates — to their economic disadvantage.
“The inequitable reality, as it stands, is that many farmers will be forced to sell owned land as they will not be able to afford the annual RZLT.”