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26 May 2022

Carlow farmers urged to get the right advice for farm partnerships

Carlow farmers urged to get the right advice for farm partnerships

The current deadline for applying for a Registered Farm Partnership number this year is February 11, 2022

With the February deadline looming, IFAC, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness specialist professional services firm, is advising Carlow farmers that getting the right advice is crucial for registered farm partnerships. 

Philip O’Connor, Head of Farm Supports at IFAC said: 

“Changing farm structures is a big decision for any farmer and all Department of Agriculture, Revenue and legal aspects should be reviewed fully before entering a farm partnership.” 

Once your accountant and /or solicitor have examined the structure and it makes financial, succession and legal sense, the next step is to deal with the Department of Agriculture.

The current deadline for applying for a Registered Farm Partnership number this year is February 11, 2022.

While you can 100% be in a registered farm partnership after this date, your BPS will remain in your name for the 2022 scheme year. 

The Benefits

A registered farm partnership comes with lots of advantages. Here are the main ones: 

Department of Agriculture 

- As a registered partnership, you can avail of various grants, including a double ceiling for TAMS/investment on the farm. 

Tax 

- Enhanced stock relief: 50% stock relief as opposed to the standard 25%

- 100% stock relief for young-trained farmers is still available for those who are partners

- Will achieve the active farmer status for succession.

Practical Benefits

- Registering your partnership also provides a good route for succession and expansion
- Non-family partnerships are an effective amalgamation of skills and resources and offer helpful economies of scale. 

Women Farming in Partnerships

We are all aware that many women play a significant role on Irish farms, from the day-to-day farming activities to farm management and financial oversight of the business. Unfortunately, this is often uncredited and under-recognised.

The CSO Labour Force Survey 2020 showed that 15% of workers in the primary agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector were female - the highest since 2010, yet only 4% of farms are registered in joint male and female names.

Philip O’Connor continued: 

“It’s important that women are encouraged and supported to become officially recognised for the work they do on farms and forming a registered farm partnership could be the first step.”

By farming in partnership, it could lead to additional benefits such as:

- Where land is jointly owned it ensures both partners meet the farming test (for capital gains tax purposes, lands need to be owned and farmed)
- A contributory pension in one’s own right can be achieved.

The Joint Herd Number Issue – An Unintentional Partnership?

Over the past few years, farmers have created “Joint Herd Number” structures to qualify for the 2015 National Reserve and 2015/16 Young Farmers Scheme without seeking either legal or taxation guidance.

The question arises in individual cases as to whether a partnership has been created and if so, what are the potential consequences? 

There are several criteria needed to demonstrate the validity of Young Farmers within a joint herd number (to access certain Young Farmers grants):

- A bank statement or letter from the bank confirming that the bank account is in joint names
- A declaration, witnessed by a solicitor, that the Young Farmer could and would exercise effective and long-term control, either solely or jointly over the farming entity for which the application was being submitted
- A declaration that the Young Farmer’s control extends to decisions surrounding the management, benefits and financial results associated with the farming entity.

These can be used in determining whether a partnership exists or not.  If deemed to be a partnership, unwittingly and unknowingly it may have the following outcomes:

- Grant immediate unintended legal ownership rights in the underlying farming assets of the enterprise to the new joint owner
Render the terms of existing wills, not reflecting the existence of the partnership, open to legal challenge as a consequence of not referring specifically to the partnership
- Create unplanned and unintended Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Capital Acquisitions Tax, or Stamp Duty bills.

Ifac‘s Do’s & Don’ts

- Do NOT transfer your herd number or BPS to a registered partnership before deciding with your accountant/solicitor who exactly is in the partnership
- Do NOT transfer your herd number to a registered partnership or joint names if you have applied but have not been granted approval for a TAMS grant or GLAS. You must wait until approval has been granted before moving a herd number
- BPS must always be transferred to the new entity before the 15th May (next date 15th May 2022)
- Be aware of tax / legal issues of moving a herd number to joint names without setting up either a registered or unregistered partnership.

Remember, a properly planned partnership such as a Registered or Unregistered Farm can assist in the farm transfer and succession process, enhance profitability and work-life balance, reduce Income Tax, secure 50% Stock Relief and a potential double ceiling for the new TAMS II Capital Grant

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