March 27, 2024
Government must confirm that agricultural land in active use can be excluded from RZLT maps – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Government to confirm that where land is actively being used for agricultural purposes it can be excluded from residential zoned land tax (RZLT).

Farmers and landowners have until 1st April to make their submission regarding land meeting or not meeting criteria for inclusion of RZLT. This is due to the Government’s decision to extend liability for impacted landowners by one year, as announced in Budget 2024.

This announcement was in response to concerns that many farmers had had their requests and appeals for the removal of their agricultural land from RZLT maps refused, with some receiving significant tax bills. Land which is actively used for agricultural purposes was not specified as a criteria for having land excluded from RZLT.

The Government have stated that the deferral is to allow landowners to request re-zoning following the publication of draft revised maps, which were published in February. However, it appears that the criteria for having land excluded from RZLT has not significantly changed, and so land that is being farmed will not necessarily be removed from the revised maps.

As a result, farmers affected before could still find themselves with some or all of their land zoned and liable for RZLT from 2025.

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:

“So far the Government have chosen to kick the can down the road on this issue, rather than actually providing assurance to farmers and landowners on agricultural land being excluded from RZLT maps.

“They cannot pretend to be unaware of the concern and significant financial pressure this could place many farmers under.

“Myself and my party colleagues have been contacted by many farmers whose land was included in the initial RZLT maps and who faced hefty tax bills that they cannot afford. Many are worried sick that this will put an end to their ability to farm or will force them to sell their land. 

“The Taoiseach even promised last year that a solution would be provided on the issue. Yet, instead it seems that they have just deferred it to a later date, rather than addressing the issue at hand.

“The decision to defer the liability for RZLT to allow farmers and landowners to request re-zoning of their land is well and good, but it is meaningless unless the criteria to exempt agricultural land that is actively being farmed is also changed.

“There is now less than a week until the deadline for farmers and landowners to make submissions to have their land excluded from zoning. Many of those farmers who are affected are making their submissions, as they did before, on the basis that they are using their land for agricultural purposes and it is not intended to be used for residential purposes.

“When the final maps are published we cannot have a situation where many farmers find themselves the same dilemma as they were in last year. Yet, without a change it in criteria it suggests that the problem is set to repeat itself. 

“The RZLT is important for delivering much-needed housing, there is no doubt about that. However, land that is being actively used for agricultural purposes should be able to be excluded from zoning. 

“Such a liability could seriously impact the incomes of many family farms. The last thing most farmers need is a significant bill on top of the soaring input costs they have faced in recent years.

“The Tánaiste stated in the Dáil just last week that the Government is ‘endeavouring’ to make sure that those who want to continue farming land ‘are not taxed unfairly’. Yet, we will still have no update on this issue and the deadline is in days. 

“Farmers need assurances that, when they make their submission, they can reasonably expect their land that is actively being farmed can be excluded from the updated RZLT maps.”

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