Inheritors of farms living abroad face worrying setbacks with Bill – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has welcomed the Tánaiste’s pledge to look into a worrying provision in the Finance Bill, which could have serious effects on emigrants due to inherit farms. The provision, which is due to be activated in three weeks’ time, means that in order to inherit a farm from deceased parents, the farm will have to be either actively farmed by the inheritor for six years or leased for that period. This could cause considerable difficulties for inheritors who have emigrated.
Speaking during Leader’s Questions today, Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:
“We will seek to amend the 2014 Finance Bill because the matter is of considerable concern. From 1 January, we will see a situation whereby, on the demise of the parents who actively farm a particular holding or if the holding is gifted, the inheritor or acquirer would have to be in a position to continue actively farming the holding for a period of six years or to lease it out for a period of not less than six years. This will have a significant impact on some members of the diaspora.
“I speak based on first-hand engagement with families in my own constituency, which is made up of small to medium holdings. There is real concern for the position of intended inheritors of farms who were forced to find work in the United States, Australia or New Zealand because there are no employment opportunities at home.
“The provisions in the Bill as it stands spell real worry for the many people who will not be able to take up active farming immediately on the death of their parent or parents. If they were to opt for the lease approach, the Bill requires them to lease it out for a period of not less than six years. Certainly in the cases of which I have knowledge, it was always the intention of the individuals concerned to return in a defined short number of years.
“There is no interchangeability between the lease requirement and active participation in farming. These individuals are part of the diaspora because of the economic circumstances in which we have found ourselves and sadly, have been left out of consideration.
“We are suggesting a further timeframe in this context, that there would be a period of grace for people in the circumstances I describe. It could be three years, but this can be determined. It would be tragic if, due to the economic reality we have experienced and the fact that these people have been forced to emigrate, they would now be further penalised as a result of that and their inability to relocate here, often as a result of unexpected circumstances.
“I welcome the Tánaiste’s pledge to look at this matter and raise it with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan. Failure to act on this would have dire consequences for this number of our emigrants. With this Bill now in the Seanad, urgent action is needed,” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.