02 Feb, 2024

Navigating tax implications in contract rearing

With the calving season fast approaching and labour shortages and changes to nitrates thresholds a problem for many dairy farms, more and more farmers are exploring the option of contract rearing as a solution.

Amidst the complexities of entering such arrangements, it is crucial for farmers to understand the tax implications associated with contract rearing. This article aims to shed light on the key considerations and strategies to mitigate tax liabilities.

Tax Implications of Changing to Contract Rearing

Upon transitioning to contract rearing, farmers must come to terms with income tax liabilities arising from destocking and selling existing stock. The profit, calculated as the sale price minus the value in the accounts, is added to the regular profit from stock sales. Therefore, a large tax liability could be incurred during the transition.

Income Averaging as a Tax Management Tool

For those who have been farming independently for at least seven years, income averaging provides a potential avenue for tax reduction. By including the profit from destocking in the average over five years, farmers can spread out the once-off large tax liability over a 5 year period. However, farmers must commit to income averaging for a 5-year period before they can elect to cease averaging.

VAT Considerations in Contract Rearing

The next critical aspect is Value Added Tax (VAT). Farmers engaged in rearing stock can choose to remain unregistered as flat-rate farmers, or they can register for VAT. Unregistered flat- rate farmers supplying stock minding or rearing services are not obligated to register for VAT. However, registered farmers must charge VAT at 13.5%. As the vast majority of the animal owners will not be VAT registered, a VAT-registered contract rearer will be at a significant disadvantage to a flat-rate farmer.

Contract Rearing & Companies

The majority of persons providing contract-rearing services also have a second trade or employment. Carrying on the contract rearing through a limited company could reduce the tax costs of the enterprise and may enable a person who is VAT registered by virtue of a second off-farm trade to provide the stock minding services without a requirement to charge VAT.

Key Takeaways

  • Individual Cases: Each contract-rearing arrangement is unique, and farmers must approach tax planning with a customised strategy.

  • Planning: Thoroughly plan and understand tax implications before transitioning to contract rearing.

  • Seek Specialist Advice: Given the complexity of tax regulations, farmers are encouraged to seek specialised advice to navigate the nuances of contact-rearing tax implications.

In conclusion, as farmers contemplate contract rearing amidst new nitrate and derogation bands, understanding the tax implications is paramount. By adopting a proactive and informed approach, farmers can navigate their tax obligations and make well-informed decisions for the sustainability of their operations.

This article was first published in our 2024 Irish Farm Report.

Robert Johnson

Talk to Robert Johnson

052 7441719info@ifac.ieLinkedin