Zoned property tax: agricultural land must be excluded – IFA

A zoned property tax (ZLT), which is introduced to encourage the use of land for building houses – as part of the government’s housing for all strategy – should not apply to agricultural land, according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

The representative body for agriculture calls on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who announced the 3% tax in his 2022 budget speech, to clarify the criteria for property taxation.

The IFA wants the Minister’s assurance that actively exploited lands will not be impacted by this new tax.

Speaking to Dáil on Budget Day, Minister Donohoe said the tax would apply to zoned land suitable for residential development and serviced, but not developed for housing.

“It will therefore target land located in zones zoned residential or zoned for a combination of uses, including residential.

“I am not proposing a minimum size exclusion because I see the potential of the tax to encourage the development of small sites in city centers,” he said.

Zoned property tax exclusions

The minister said there will be a number of tax exclusions such as residential houses and their gardens, equipment and infrastructure.

Other exemptions will be defined in the finance bill, which is expected to be released tomorrow, October 21.

The tax will operate on a self-assessment basis, be administered by the Revenue Commissioners, and replace the vacant site tax when it goes into effect.

Clarity

IFA Farm Business President Rose Mary McDonagh called for clarification on the issue.

“Thousands of farmers own land on the outskirts of Irish towns and villages which can be both residential and serviced.

“If these zoned lands are agricultural and are actively cultivated, they are not hoarded as an investment and should be excluded from this new ZLT,” she said.

“Once the land is included in a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) request, it is clear that it is cultivated, agricultural land,” she said.

Lessons learned

The farm business president added that lessons must be learned from the ambiguities of past policies.

“When the vacant site tax was initially introduced, the IFA had to engage intensively with the finance ministry to ensure that farmland was, rightly, excluded.”

The same clarity is needed in this case, she added.

Amalia H. Mercado