18 December 1998

Tax crackdown on Irish processors

PROCESSING plants in the Irish Republic face a tax crackdown over the increasing volume of lamb imports, some of which are believed to come from the UK.

It follows official complaints to the Department of Agriculture in Dublin by angry Irish sheep farmers, who claim that imports are being used to depress prices even further. They suspect that a significant number are being brought in from Britain, without the required documentation.

Processors are entitled to recover a 3.5% VAT repayment on slaughtered animals – but only if they have been produced in the Irish Republic. Irish Revenue commissioners have confirmed that VAT audits are being carried out on several lamb processing plants to determine if rebates are being falsely claimed.

Already, according to the tax authorities, £100,000 has been recovered from one plant – so far unnamed – as a result.

The chairman of the IFAs sheep committee, Michael Holmes, welcomes the tax move but is pressing for other measures to be taken. "We want the plants to identify the place of the origin of all the lambs they slaughter. They say they cannot do that – but we say they have a responsibility to do it." &#42