An Irish TD has called for farm land designated as “functional farm” to be excluded from the Residential Zoned Land Tax (RZLT), which is set to be implemented from February 1, 2024. The tax will be calculated at 3% of the market value of land “in scope” and will be self-assessed. The RZLT is part of the government’s Housing for All Plan, which aims to increase housing supply. However, the Independent Galway East TD, Sean Canney, has voiced concerns that farm families will be financially burdened by the tax, with some potentially having to pay €450 per acre.
Canney has urged the government to provide exemptions for farmers who can prove they have “been actively farming the land”. He has suggested that if farmers can provide records of receiving grants from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, such as the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), then there should be no doubt that they are “active” farmers. Canney has argued that the tax is simply a “financial burden on farm families” and that it could force some to sell land that has been in their family for generations.
Canney’s concerns stem from the fact that farm land designated as “in scope” for the RZLT could end up being taxed based on a value that they will not benefit from, as the land will not be used for residential purposes. He has criticized the appeals process, which places the burden of proof on the farmer to demonstrate that their land should be excluded from the tax. Canney has argued that this is an unacceptable process, as it places undue stress on farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
The RZLT is designed to encourage landowners to develop land that is zoned for residential or mixed-use purposes and that is serviced. However, Canney has argued that this tax is aimed at property developers who are hoarding land to make a profit, rather than farmers who are dependent on their land for income. He has suggested that the exclusion of properties that are currently liable for the local property tax is a sound policy, but that the same does not hold true for farmers who are making an active living farming their land but happen to be in a zoned area.
Canney’s concerns are shared by many farmers and their families, who fear that the RZLT could force them to sell land that has been in their family for generations. The tax could place an undue financial burden on farm families, who are already struggling to make ends meet. Canney has urged the government to provide exemptions for farmers who can demonstrate that they are actively farming their land and that it should be excluded from the RZLT.