Call for modifications to Residential Zoned Land Tax to help farmers

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea.

FIANNA Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who agrees with the principle of the Residential Zoned land Tax, has warned that it could have profound implications for many farmers.

“I am talking about genuine farmers many of whose families have farmed the land for generations,” Deputy O’Dea told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil.

“They are not interested in availing of the uplift in financial terms caused by rezoning. In fact, they have not asked for their lands to be rezoned, but if the legislation as currently drafted is implemented, it will inevitably result in many of those people being driven out of farming because there is no way they are going to be able to support themselves and pay the tax from the income they hope to derive from farming,” he suggested.

O’Dea then asked if the Government have any proposals to modify the Bill to avoid a consequence that “must surely have been unintended?”

“The short answer is yes,” the Taoiseach replied.

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“This tax was introduced to penalise people who were hoarding land during a housing crisis. It now appears to be affecting 100 or possibly 200 landowners who are not land hoarders. They are farmers who have sought de-zoning, which has been refused in some cases by An Bord Pleanála,” he explained.

“The issue of R2 zoning arises where somebody’s land is zoned residential but he or she cannot develop it even if he or she wanted to because of the way the development plan is written.

“I spoke to the Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, the Minister for Finance, and the Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery, and Reform about this last week. We do accept that anomalies have arisen in cases where somebody has sought a de-zoning or where it is R2 land and we do want to fix it. It may require a change in primary legislation to do so. We should have an answer in the next couple of weeks.”