11 OCTOBER 2016
ICSA president Patrick Kent has expressed disappointment that there seems to be a slowdown in the commitment to bring equality in tax treatment for the self-employed. “Last year’s budget saw a €550 earned tax credit introduced with a commitment that the subsequent two budgets would also feature an additional €550, instead only €400 has been allocated. This suggests that the commitment to the self-employed is not as strong as it should be”, he said.
The ICSA president commended the decision to increase the Capital Acquisitions Tax (Category A) threshold from €280,000 to €310,000 and expressed the view that further increases in the threshold should be considered in line with increasing asset values. In addition, he said ICSA welcomes the decision to reduce the Universal Social Charge while noting the scope for further reductions in this area. Also welcomed is the decision to extend farm restructuring relief to the end of 2019.
Regarding the provision to allow farmers to opt out of income averaging Mr Kent said “This will be a help this year but a deeper examination of how to tax volatile incomes and the inequities around self-employed taxation is needed.”
On spending Mr Kent welcomed the increased spending planned for the Rural Development Programme of €601 million and the well flagged sheep scheme allocation of €25 million. However he said that there was an opportunity missed to partially reverse previous cuts to the ANC scheme. He added that this money was co-financed by the EU pillar 2 fund. “We are concerned that spending targets will not be met in the absence of an ANC increase.
Mr Kent also noted that the announcement of flood relief schemes was notable for the absence of any reference to the Shannon and he called for urgent action on this.
The ICSA leader also expressed misgivings about using Brussels emergency funds to supply low interest loans. “There is no doubt that low interest loans have a role to replace high interest merchant and short term banking finance for those under pressure with repayments. However, ICSA is concerned that in the more medium term low interest loans cannot be used as a sticking plaster to hide deep income problems in all farm sectors. Farmers are being encouraged to invest growing production which is dangerous against a backdrop of poor market outlook.”
“Regarding plans for consultation on sugar tax, such measures are useless unless accompanied by a national strategy to increase consumption of milk by children instead and the promotion of healthier dietary options that include locally sourced fresh produce.”