13 December 1996

Retirement relief tops list of quota queries

RETIREMENT relief on milk quota tops the list of farmer queries submitted each week to the Grant Thornton/NFU tax helpline.

Confusion has arisen among many farmers, with "grey" areas in the legislation and some uncertainties even among Inland Revenue staff, says the companys agricultural taxation manager, Vicki Oliver.

And with quota introduced in 1984, at a base cost of zero, the potential gain and, therefore, tax liability can be large.

"People may not realise, for example, that leasing out quota will jeoapardise the relief," says Miss Oliver. "And this can be a temptation, if the return seems preferable to that obtainable by selling it and investing the proceeds elsewhere."

Generous reliefs on retirement are still available, with the first £250,000 of gain and half of the next £750,000 potentially exempt.

"But, with an election looming, farmers may now be facing their last chance to get their affairs in order for the next parliament – and possibly for a generation."n