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EU tax challenge could hit farmers and foresters, says Step

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The EU announced yesterday it would challenge the UK’s inheritance tax reliefs for agriculture and forestry. 
 
David Harvey, chief executive of Step, says: "Many farmers rely on these reliefs as they cannot afford to pay IHT on the value of their farm. If the reliefs disappear they would have to sell their farms when they die. This will lead to a fracturing of UK farm land and a generation of young farmers who cannot afford to inherit their farms.  If these reliefs go they need to be replaced with something similar. British farming is in a precarious position and as their margins are already squeezed it is essential these reliefs remain."
 
Yesterday the European Commission formally requested the UK to amend its legislation which provides for inheritance tax relief. If no satisfactory reaction is received within two months, the Commission may decide to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. 
 
The Commission is of the opinion that the UK should allow inheritance relief for all agricultural and forestry property situated in other EU and EEA Member States, as is it does for similar property in the UK. 
 
Step is working with the UK government and the EU to see what can be done to keep these reliefs or introduce similar measures.

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