Can You Save Tax with Five-Year Farmer’s Averaging?

Tax return - Farmers Averaging

You should by now have filed, or be the process of preparing, your tax returns for 2016/17. Have you remembered however, that as of 6 April 2016, farmers have the option to average their profits over five years? Two-year averaging is still available, and you can choose which is most beneficial for you – two-year, five-year or no averaging.

This is a valuable relief for those who have experienced fluctuating profits and can result in substantial tax savings.

Example

We can consider this using the example of Farmer Jones, who had the following profits in tax years 2012/13 to 2016/17.

Tax year 12/13 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17
Profits £
Nil (loss) Nil (loss) Nil (loss) 5,000 70,000
2 year averaging 15/16 and 16/17
37,500 37,500
Tax & Class 4 NIC 7,949.60 8,029.60
5 year averaging
15,000 15,000 15,000 15,000 15,000
Tax & Class 4 NIC 2,044.50 1,764.05 1,633.96 1,504.60 1,424.60

The overall tax and class 4 NIC due without averaging is £20,884.60. With two-year averaging it would be £15,979.20 and with five-year averaging, £8,371.71. That is a significant tax saving of £7,607.49 for opting for five-year averaging over two-year, and illustrates the importance of this new relief.

This simple example assumes that Farmer Jones has no other income. You must also ensure that you meet the qualifying criteria before claiming Farmer’s Averaging.

If you’d like any further information please contact Green & Co on 01633 871122.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

A Farmer’s Life – Through Rose-Coloured Glasses?

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A recent study by The Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) has suggested that the public’s view of the life of today’s farmers is a long way from the truth.

Around 25% of those adults who took part in the study said that they found the idea of giving up their day jobs to go and work on a farm an attractive proposition, having what would appear to be an idealised view of living close to nature and making a comfortable living at the same time. When asked to estimate the annual wage of a farmer, the average came out at just over £46,000 pa, with some even guessing at £75,000. A far cry from Defra’s calculated average of around £20,000!

In reality, more than half of farmers today have to supplement their incomes by doing other things alongside the traditional farming role; and with so many dairy farms now closed and fewer and fewer young people coming into the industry, the future of farming in the UK sits under a cloud of uncertainty.

The PCF concludes that more needs to be done to educate the public on the daily challenges of those working in agriculture, and to enable a better understanding of what it means to be a farmer in modern-day Britain. Better links between the industry and the consumer, they suggest, can help to create awareness and promote British farm products.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

 

Apply Now For Tesco Future Farmer Foundation

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The Tesco Future Farmer Foundation is looking for young people in UK & Irish farming who are keen to develop a successful future in agriculture.

Running from 19 June until 29 September 2017, the programme is available for those aged between 20 and 35 from all farming sectors, and aims to help in four particular areas:

  • Business Skills Workshops with leading experts to help get to the grips with the financial, business and life skills needed to succeed.
  • Supply Chain Events including visits to leading food, farming and retail businesses to help build knowledge of supply chains across a host of different sectors.
  • Business Mentors with the skills and experience to help guide you towards your goals.
  • Training Bursary with funding available for further technical or business training.

The aim of the programme is to inspire and develop the next generation of growers and producers and more information, as well as the application form, can be found HERE.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Farmers and Banks – a Relationship on the Rocks?

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A recent survey undertaken by YouGov reveals that farming businesses feel that they are not getting sufficient support from their banks.

Over 1,000 small and medium farming businesses took part in the survey, with over 30% stating they would like to see more commitment to the agricultural industry from banks.  One of the biggest concerns was a lack of specialist knowledge to fully comprehend the support the sector requires.  Many also called for greater transparency regarding fees and charges.

As Brexit negotiations continue, there is still considerable apprehension in the farming community about the future of aid and its effect on the industry.  This, coupled with the feeling that banks do not fully understand the particular pressures they are currently facing, suggests that farmers are becoming increasingly frustrated in their relationships with the banking industry.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Last Chance for Welsh Dairy Farmers

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Dairy farmers in Wales have until this Friday to apply for an aid scheme worth £1,800.

The EU Conditional Aid Scheme is only open to dairy farmers in Wales and, specifically, those that were in milk production with a supply contract on 1 January 2016.

To qualify before the deadline at midnight on Friday 30 June, producers need to complete an online questionnaire with information about their farm business. In return, farmers will receive the payment by the end of September as well as a report, prepared by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), identifying business strengths and weaknesses and a comparison against industry performance indicators.

The link for the questionnaire as well as more information can be found on the AHDB website.

Farms with land falling outside of Wales can still participate in the scheme if the majority of the land is in Wales.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

DEFRA Revises TIFF Estimate

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DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has now published revised estimates which suggest Total Income From Farming (TIFF) in the UK fell by around 7.5% in 2016. This is significantly different from their original figure of 1.5% reported earlier in the year, with the Government blaming incorrect data accounting for the error in the previous estimate. The TIFF is calculated using income from farm production and subsidies, less costs.

The revised figures confirm the slump in the value of UK farm produce, resulting from falling production and poor prices for dairy and cereal farmers last year. This is perhaps surprising given that there had been some good news with improved productivity in the beef, sheep and pork sectors and the cost of fertilisers and feeds dropping. It seems, however that these factors were not enough to pull back the negative impact of falling revenues overall.

Despite income for farmers having dropped consecutively for the last 4 years, there is optimism that 2017 will see something of a recovery with commodity markets trending upwards at the present time.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Will Brexit Affect the Value of Your Farmland?

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Fears have been expressed by some land agents that agricultural land prices may fall in the UK, as a direct result of Brexit.

It is expected that the amount of subsidies, such as the Basic Payment Scheme, will decline once Britain leaves the EU, causing some farmers to re-consider their financial position.  Many are already struggling to make ends meet and a reduction in subsidy support, combined with a predicted interest-rate rise for borrowing, may result in many being forced to leave the industry.

As a consequence the demand for farmland could fall away, with the price per hectare dropping by as much as £1,000, despite it having remained fairly robust so far, at an average of around £7,500 for bare land.

However, even the experts admit it is difficult to predict the full impact of Brexit, with so many other factors coming into play, such as trade tariffs, pricing and food imports.  Post-referendum predictions of economic doom and gloom have not yet come to pass, so those in the industry would be wise not to panic at this stage.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

The General Election: What Will It Mean For Farmers?

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Following the announcement by Theresa May that there will be a general election in June, industry leaders in the food and farming sectors have called for all political parties to put agriculture at the fore-front of their policies.

The Food and Drink Federation in particular are asking all concerned to make clear their vision for food and farming post-Brexit.  It is important, says the Federation, that any future Government is focused on promoting growth and support in the agricultural sector, delivering a good deal for farmers to be competitive enough to make a substantial contribution to the UK economy.  With international relationships currently under immense pressure, now is the time for the country to look at how we can become more self-sufficient, particularly when it comes to feeding the population.

The Tenant Farmers Association have also delivered a list of priorities which they believe are crucial to ensure our farming industry flourishes as it should.  They include reducing the country’s reliance on imports, highlighting animal welfare and consumer safety and confidence, help with price volatility and long-term security for tenant farmers.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

24 Hours In Farming

Holstein cow with tongue sticking out

From 5am on 10 August to 5am on 11 August 2017, “24 hours in Farming” is back supported by FG Insight and Morrisons.  The aim of the event is for UK Agriculture to “shout about the industry and why they are so proud to work within it” and to show consumers how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.  Last year the event reached an audience of 112 million and trended in the Top 5 on Twitter all day.

You can get involved by posting photos and videos on any social media platform using the hashtag #Farm24 to let people know what you are doing that day.  This year, the event organisers are trying to make it bigger and better than last year by encouraging farmers to also host on-farm events, give talks to local groups or arrange interviews with local newspapers or radio stations.

If you are planning on opening your doors to the public, you can click this link to find a quick guide on how to get organised.

Are you a farmer or a landlord?

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There has always been uncertainty over whether a landowner is a farmer or a landlord for tax purposes. There has however, been a recent useful decision by the First Tier Tribunal in the case of John Carlisle Allen which has helped to clarify the capital gains tax position (and the valuable entrepreneurs relief/rollover relief ) on grass letting, and what constitutes trading or investment activities by the landowner.

The facts of the case are:

  • Mr Allen and his brother grew the grass which was eaten mainly by Mr Crooks’ stock.
  • The Allens maintained the rights to lairage – temporary housing of animals on the land, supplied fertiliser when needed, maintained fences and drainage, supplied water and engaged a Contractor to cut the weed and hedges.
  • Mr Crooks could graze stock or take silage off between 17 March and 1 November and claim the subsidy for part of the time. He was not permitted to spread artificial fertiliser on the land, only farmyard manure. He had to control his stock and repair any damage caused by them.
  • The Allens occasionally supplied fertiliser free when the grass was getting weak, but this did not happen every season.
  • The ground was left to recover over the winter for fear of poaching.
  • The £1,000 paid a year was described in the agreement as a “licence fee” rather than rent.

The Judge found in favour of the taxpayer. He stated that the Allens had demonstrated an awareness of the land and its condition and the need to maintain it. The actions were not one of a property investor. Although Mr Crooks was taking the grass, it was the Allens who were farming the land by managing it in such a way as to maximise the grass crop produced and maintain its quality. Their input into the husbandry of the land was critical.

So what can landowners take from this case if they wish to be classed as a farmer rather than a landowner?

  • Keep a diary or record of what you do from day to day, month by month.
  • Keep clear detailed notes to record the work undertaken and management carried out.
  • Carry out soil testing every few years, and take advice on applying the right quantities of lime, phosphate etc., to correct soil deficiencies, minimise wastage and maximise the crop.
  • Carry out weed control.

There are, as stated above, valuable capital gains tax reliefs which apply to a trade but not to the letting of land. Make sure you are in a position to utilise them if needed.

For further information please contact the tax team at Green & Co on 01633 871122.