Agriculture and Farming newsletter


Autumn Edition

Contents 3 Welcome to our Autumn edition of our Agricultural and Farming newsletter 4  Business Property Relief and the Balfour Case!

8  Biodiversity: gains to be made but uncertainty remains

10  Selling Land for Development

12  Basis Period Reform:

implications for farmers

6 Letting Farm Properties as Holiday Lets

14 Meet the Team


Welcome to our Autumn edition of our Agricultural and Farming newsletter

What an extraordinary few weeks it has been for UK politics.

Much has been reported of Liz Truss being the UK’s shortest serving Prime Minister. What hasn’t grabbed the headlines is Ranil Jayawardena being the shortest serving Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at one month and nineteen days. It is an office that Liz Truss held for almost two years from July 2014.

B ut it was Michael Gove as Secretary of State in 2019 that shifted government policy to its focus on the environment and public money for public goods in the form of Environmental Land Management Scheme. Of course, the permanence of the DEFRA civil service means that whilst there is turbulence in the seat of the Secretary of State, the day to day continues. Yet the rhetoric of the Truss administration and environmental stewardship being a secondary objective to economic growth poured fuel on the policy fire, and layered even more uncertainty on to a maturing policy for which clarity is so desperately needed. It really is unhelpful. The sector is facing so many challenges. We are on the path of diminishing subsidy so clarity and consistency on the policy is needed so farmers can plan, adapt, and invest. Let us hope Therese Coffey delivers that. It remains to be seen. The theme of our articles in this edition of our newsletter is tax which is a vital consideration when appraising the implications of adapting and planning for change. Housing development is a pillar of economic growth, and we are seeing a number of clients being approached for option and promotion agreements. Chris George examines the key tax considerations should the developer come calling.

The pandemic led to a surge in staycations, and the demand meant many were able to enjoy a big uplift in financial contributions whilst others have diversified further to take advantage of the opportunity. Simon Hurren recaps the key tax considerations and the importance of understanding the inheritance tax relief position. Climate change and protecting the environment is shaping legislation, the tool to influence corporate behaviour. Bio-diversity Net Gain (BNG) projects present a new market for farmers and landowners to monetise the opportunity and Chris George looks at the tax implications. Tax simplification has been a goal since the introduction of self-assessment and basis period reform is the latest step to try and achieve it. The alignment of reporting taxable profit from financial year to fiscal year will accelerate profit charged to tax for some and careful planning is needed to manage cashflow and measure the impact. We look at what can be done. Adaption and change sustain the business for present and future generations and a key tax case in the consideration of succession planning is Balfour. Tax partner Gavin Birchall revisits the key issues of that case since it is important that the presumption of IHT relief being available for a farming business is not compromised by business decisions necessarily taken to survive.

Finally, I’m delighted to announce that we’ll be holding our next Farming Conference in January, with a fantastic line up of speakers who will be discussing some of the most compelling issues facing our sector at the moment. If you are interested in registering for this online event on 17 January, please email to reserve your place. I very much hope you find our articles of interest. As ever, do reach out to any member of our expert advisory team to discuss any matter which concerns you or that you would like to know more about.

Best wishes,

Nick Banks

Nick Banks


Business Property Relief and the Balfour Case

For farmers and owners of agricultural estates, Agricultural Property Relief (“APR”) and Business Property Relief (“BPR”) are extremely valuable reliefs from Inheritance Tax, together worth over £1 billion each year.


B PR can apply to assets that do not qualify the type of property. BPR does not, however, apply to a business consisting “wholly or mainly of making or holding investments”. When considering which parts of a diversified estate’s business are eligible for BPR, the 2010 Balfour case remains the leading authority. The Balfour case related to the availability of BPR to the Whittingehame estate of the late Lord Balfour. The estate covered 1,907 acres and comprised: for APR as long as certain conditions are met. Where BPR applies, the value of gifts made either in one’s lifetime or on death are reduced by either 50% or 100% depending upon

Given the importance in the Balfour case of the existence of a single composite business, landowners may want to review their management structure and implement a single business plan across the whole estate. They should also prepare consolidated management accounts, run a single bank account and payroll and ensure that different board meetings are not held to discuss separate trading and investment strategies. Once a single composite business has been established, it is necessary to determine which activity is dominant (trading or investment) by looking at the turnover, profit and time spent by employees of the business. For BPR purposes, when considering whether the business is ‘wholly or mainly’ investment or ‘wholly or mainly’ trading, this is considered to be a 50% test. However, this is at odds with the test used in the Capital Gains Tax legislation which looks at whether there is ‘substantial’ trading, generally considered to be an 80% test. This issue was considered by the Office of Tax Simplification’s IHT review in July 2019 who recommended that the government should consider whether it continues to be appropriate for the level of trading activity for BPR to be set at a lower level than that for CGT reliefs. Since then, the Government has not demonstrated any willingness to take this debate forward. However, this is something that professional advisers are keeping an eye on. Farmers and owners of agricultural estates should review their IHT position regularly to ensure that any investment activities remain ancillary to the trading activities. Whilst it can seem attractive to include as many investment assets as possible within a mixed estate to maximise the availability of BPR, this does create significant risks. Firstly the level of investment activities carried out may cause BPR to be denied on all of the assets within the business (including the trading assets). This risk is heightened with above-inflation increases in house values and rental income in recent years. There are also wider commercial factors such as whether it is prudent to house various trading and investment assets within the same business entity and expose investment properties to the financial risks associated with operating a trading business such as farming. With this in mind, and with the possibility of the 80:20 rule applying to BPR in future, it is worth considering as to whether it is desirable to shift some investment assets outside of the existing business (to ensure that BPR is preserved on the bulk of the business assets) or whether the level of trading activities should be increased by, for example, offering B&B (trading) instead of holiday lets (investment) or full livery (trading) instead of DIY livery (investment). There are nevertheless wider commercial issues in play which will inevitably override IHT considerations. If you would like to discuss how BPR applies to you or would like an IHT review of your business, please contact Gavin Birchall at

2 in-hand farms;

3 let farms;

26 let cottages;

2 let commercial units;


parks; and

• sporting rights.

The Executors claimed that the estate was managed as one composite business, with Lord Balfour presiding over all business decisions. On Lord Balfour’s death, the Executors therefore claimed BPR in full against the value of his partnership interest in the business. HMRC contended that as the estate included a large number of rental properties, the partnership was not undertaking a qualifying business activity and was instead predominantly “making or holding investments”. The question for the Tribunal to consider in this case was whether the balance of trading and investment activities tipped towards investment and therefore whether BPR should be denied. The Tribunal found in favour of the taxpayer and held that Lord Balfour’s partnership interest qualified for 100% BPR. The key criteria they considered in reaching their decision was whether the business was: • a single composite business of farming and estate management (in which case BPR would be available on the whole estate including the ancillary investment assets such as rental cottages); or

• two separate businesses (in which case BPR would only be available in respect of the trading activities).

The Balfour case remains good news for agricultural businesses who engage in some investment activities (such as renting out properties) in addition to their main farming activities, as it means that BPR can potentially be claimed on ALL the assets within the business.


Letting Farm Properties as Holiday Lets With diversification of farms at the forefront of many farmers’ minds, it is common to look at the properties on a farm and consider whether these

can be let, particularly as a holiday let. With the upcoming development at Sizewell C it can reasonably be expected that there will be increasing demand for short stays for people involved with the project, which may well present lucrative opportunities for local farmers.

W hilst this presents a chance to generate a further income stream, there are several tax considerations to ensure the letting does not generate any future tax problems and that you maximise the reliefs available. Furnished Holiday lets (FHL) FHLs bring a number of tax benefits, but the starting point is to look at whether the letting of the property qualifies as an FHL.

If these requirements are not met, the property will be classed as an investment rental property and will not benefit from various tax reliefs below. Income Tax As you would expect, income arising from the property will be subject to income tax by the individual or entity (eg Partnership or Company) that owns the property. This is an important point to consider as assets can often be considered as partnership assets but may be owned personally by a partner or may be held in Trust. Any expenses incurred wholly and exclusively in relation to the letting can be deducted in calculating the profits, such as agent’s fees, insurance, heating and electricity costs. Once key area of difference between a FHL and an ordinary let property is that of finance costs, such as mortgage interest. For an FHL, the interest and any associated costs can be deducted in full when calculating the profits.

Ordinarily these are restricted to basic rate relief but for FHLs full relief is available, which can present a significant tax benefit, particularly where finance is required to renovate the property before letting. Capital allowances Capital Allowances can be claimed on the cost of furnishing the property, including white goods and furnishings, giving tax relief on the initial costs to furnish the property ready for letting. Pension As a side point, the income from a FHL qualifies as earnings for the purposes of pension contributions. Pension contributions cannot exceed your relevant earnings, and FHL income can therefore help top up your earnings to allow further pension contributions to be made (subject to annual allowances), which can be particularly helpful, for example if there is a bad harvest with poor income returns.

To qualify, it is necessary for the following conditions to be met:

• The property must be available for let for 210 days during the year.

• It must be let for 105 days (this excludes any lettings which last for longer than 30 days).

• The property must be furnished.


Capital Gain Tax (CGT) Where the furnished holiday let conditions are met there are several CGT benefits as the property is effectively treated as a trading business. This means the property can benefit from relief such as Business Asset Disposal relief if it is sold. This gives a reduced CGT rate on any capital gain of 10%, compared to 18% for a basic rate taxpayer, and 28% for a higher rate taxpayer. There are other conditions around the ownership period of the property, and it must have been let as an FHL for two years prior to sale. The property can also benefit from holdover relief, which can be particularly beneficial when looking to pass assets to future generations without wanting to incur an immediate CGT liability. Holdover relief works by deferring the capital gain by effectively transferring the property at the owner’s base cost. This means that there is no immediate tax charge.

Whilst gifting a property and claiming holdover relief could form part of overall IHT (inheritance tax) planning, it is important for it to be considered in the context of your overall estate. Inheritance Tax (IHT) position Where a property is let as a furnished holiday let, it is often expected that Business Property Relief (BPR) will also follow. BPR can give relief up to 100% where the conditions are met and most commonly applies to trading businesses. Whilst FHLs are seen as a trading business for CGT this is not necessarily the case for IHT. To qualify for Business Property Relief, it is necessary to show that additional services are provided as part of the letting, so that activity is deemed to be more than an investment. Simply taking reservations, cleaning the property and carrying out general maintenance will not be sufficient. Additional services need to be undertaken, such as booking local restaurants, providing or arranging activities for guests during their stay.

This is not an exhaustive list, and each case must be considered on its own merits. It is clear from the cases that have been through court that the level at which additional services are deemed to be sufficient is high and will need to be carefully planned in order to satisfy HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs). Should BPR not be available, you may be exposed to IHT on the value of the property, which could land you with an unexpected IHT charge. Clearly, renting one of the properties on a farm can be lucrative in the short term, generating another income stream but careful consideration must be given to the overall structure and IHT planning for the farm before letting the business, or you could be left with a large future liability. If you are thinking of using your farm properties as holiday or furnished lets, get in touch with one of our tax advisers on 0330 058 6559 or email


Biodiversity: gains to be made but uncertainty remains

Biodiversity Net Gains. It was back in 2019 that the then Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that any new development would have provide a 10% uplift in the biodiversity of the site in order to achieve planning permission.

A lot can change in three years, for example we have gone through four Chancellors in that time, however BNG remains. This concept is being brought into planning law and will become mandatory by 2023, although it has already been voluntarily adopted by many local authorities. The new policy will require any new development to demonstrate a net gain of a minimum of 10% of the biodiversity value of the site, measured using Defra’s Biodiversity Metric. This will apply to development that requires permission under the Town and Country Planning Act as well as to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

To achieve this gain, developers have two options available to them: they can either create a new habitat or enhance the existing habitats on site. Both options will involve a mix of wetlands, planting and managing woodland, and creating and maintaining wildflower meadows. Regardless of the option chosen, the habitat must be locked in for a minimum period of 30 years. In order to ensure no habit is recoded twice, all agreements need to be registered with Natural England. All avenues should be explored to retain the biodiversity uplift on the site where the development takes place, but if this is not possible, other land may be used providing it falls within the same local authority.

This planning policy clearly creates an opportunity for farmers and landowners. There could be an increasing demand to sell or lease areas of land to developers, who can then use them to create the biodiversity units required under their planning permission. This will be a particularly attractive option if there are areas of land which are unproductive, unprofitable or difficult to access. Turning these ‘problem fields’ into wildflower meadows, woodlands or wetlands could provide a guaranteed income stream for a 30-year period whilst also saving time and costs, when compared to using these areas for agriculture where this is no longer profitable in a post-subsidy environment. In addition, if woodland is created on the land which is leased to a developer, the landowner may also be eligible to create and sell Woodland Carbon Units, adding a further revenue stream.


Given the ambitious housebuilding targets set by the current government, these planning changes could result in a huge demand for land outside of residential developments to be utilised for creating biodiversity net gains. While demand and price for such land will vary in each region, in some areas very significant new revenue streams could be created. However… while the opportunity to create a new, stable, income stream using unprofitable land is undoubtedly appealing, care should be taken as there are still a large number of uncertainties regarding the application of biodiversity units. Firstly, any land offered up for biodiversity projects must be taken out of normal active production for a period of at least 30 years. Even after this initial period has passed, it may be problematic to return the land back to productive use. The land may have become an ecological area of great significance for example, which would prevent any change of use.

Secondly, there are still a large number of of unknowns regarding the tax status of biodiversity units. Will land given over to biodiversity initiatives still qualify for valuable Inheritance Tax Reliefs such as Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief? Will Capital Gains Tax Reliefs such as Holdover, Rollover and Business Asset Disposal Relief still apply if the land is gifted or sold? The legislation just simply hasn’t caught up with the new opportunities. While nothing is certain, it is thought that providing some kind of trading activity is still undertaken on the land, then many tax reliefs may still be applicable. However, the level of the trading activities that need to be maintained is still unclear. There may also be issues to consider with many landowners who have entered into agreements for renewables on some areas of their land in recent years.

The importance of understanding new and emerging opportunities cannot be downplayed, especially at a time when there is increasing pressure on agricultural income. However, any decision which is likely to have a multigenerational effect on a landholding should not be taken lightly and without obtaining detailed, professional advice. At Scrutton Bland we have a number of clients who are leading the industry in this area and looking to create some exciting biodiversity projects using their landholdings. As such we have both knowledge and experience in providing detailed tax and business advice for businesses looking at opportunities in biodiversity net gains. Please get in touch with the team by calling 0330 058 6559 or emailing


Selling Land for Development With development opportunities increasing across the region, the number of farmers and landowners being approached by interested parties continues to rise. Ranging from smaller, bespoke residential developments to larger schemes involving both residential and commercial buildings, each transaction is different.


S imilarly, when considering the tax implications of a potential sale of development land, there is no one size fits all solution. Factors such as the current ownership of the land, how the disposal will be structured and the aims for the realised proceeds all need to be considered when devising a tax strategy. There is however one constant. It is vital that professional, tailored tax advice is obtained at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the sale can be carried out in as tax efficient a way as possible. A normal disposal of land or property ordinarily results in a tax charge for the landowner. This will be Capital Gains Tax for individuals or trusts who hold the land or Corporation Tax for companies. The taxable gain is calculated by taking the sales price and deducting the initial base cost (or Probate Value for inherited assets) as well as any qualifying improvement expenditure and the associated incidental costs of both sale and acquisition. For Capital Gains Tax, the resulting gain is usually subject to a 20% tax charge to the extend that the gain falls above the higher rate tax threshold (10% for any amount of gain falling within the basic rate threshold). If the disposal is of residential property, these rates increase to 28% and 18% respectively. These higher rates of Capital Gains Tax will not apply if the disposal is of bare land, even when this has planning permission for residential development. It only applies if what is being sold is already being used for residential purposes. This could for example include the garden and grounds of a property.

Rollover Relief In some cases, the gain arising on the sale of development land can be deferred using Rollover Relief. To benefit from this relief, the proceeds realised from the sale of the land (which must have been used in the landowner’s trade) needs to be reinvested into new land (or anther qualifying asset) within a four year period. This period runs from 12 months prior to the disposal until three years following the disposal. The newly acquired asset needs to be used in the owner’s trade immediately following purchase. Under Rollover Relief, the gain which would ordinarily arise on the disposal is deferred into the base cost of the newly acquired asset. On the future disposal of the new asset, the gain which is deferred effectively becomes chargeable to Capital Gains Tax. It could therefore be the case that then this gain comes into charge, the tax rate applicable may be higher or lower than the current rates of Capital Gains Tax. Trading v Investment As mentioned above, the disposal of development land by individuals is ordinarily subject to Capital Gains Tax. However, in certain circumstances it can be subject to Income Tax. In order for any disposal to be judged liable to Income Tax, the landowner will need to be seen to be trading in land rather than holding it as an investment. The actions and intentions of the landowner are key in determining how they are holding the asset. For example, was the land originally acquired purely with a view to making a profit when selling or were there other intentions, such as using it in the course of their trade. Other examples of when some or all of the gain can be charged to Income Tax include transactions whereby the landowner’s proceeds are linked to the profits made by the developer or where the landowner plays some part in the development of the land. The disparity between the rates of Income Tax (up to 45%) and Capital Gains Tax (20%), mean it is vital to consult tax advisers as early as possible so they can assist with how to structure the transaction. In any transaction, given the wide variety of rules and reliefs, it is important to ensure that professional advice is sought at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the landowner and their family enjoy as much of the proceeds from the sale as possible.

For Company disposals, the gain will be subject to Corporation Tax which is currently 19%.

Business Asset Disposal Relief In some limited circumstances, sales of development land can be structured in such a way as to make use of Business Asset Disposal Relief (formerly Entrepreneurs’ Relief). By utilising this relief, it can reduce the rate of Capital Gains Tax to 10% for up to £1million of gains per individual landowner. However, because this relief offers such a generous reduction in tax rate, there are a number of conditions which need to be met in order for the disposal to qualify. In the context of the disposal of development land, the most common way of obtaining Business Asset Disposal Relief is for the sale of the land to be within three years following the sale or cessation of business which occupied the land. We have seen situations where a working farmer has sold development land and at the same time retired from active farming with any remaining land then let out under an FBT for example.

To get in touch with a member of the team call 0330 058 6559 or email


Basis Period Reform: implications for farmers We have previously considered the impact on sole traders and partnerships of the proposed basis period reform (which is part of the government’s plans for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment. This reform was originally due to take effect in the 2022/23 tax year but has now been deferred until 2023/24. This means that there is still time for accountants and their clients to consider the position if their year-end is not coterminous with the tax year and to take steps to minimise the impact of the new measures.

Example of taxable profits before/after basis period reform 2022/23 Profit Year ended 30 June 2022


2023/24 Profit Year ended 30 June 2023

£80,000 £60,000 -£10,000 £130,000

Period from 1 July 2023 – 5 April 2024

Overlap profit

Total taxable profits


How are the rules changing? A reminder Currently, self-employed individuals and members of partnerships are charged Income Tax on the profits arising from their activities. Ordinarily, the profits arising in the accounting period which ends in a tax year are taxed. So, for a business with a June accounting year end, the tax liability for the 2022/23 tax year will be those arising in the year ended 30 June 2022. This is known as the ‘accounting year basis’. However, these rules can be complex, especially in the opening years of a business. It can also lead to a time-lag between profits being earned and when tax is due. In the example above, tax would not be due on the profits for the period from 1 July 2021-30 June 2022 until 31 January 2024. This reform changes the taxation of profits to a ‘tax year basis’ with effect from the tax year 2024-25, so that a business’s profit or loss for a tax year is the profit or loss arising in the tax year itself, regardless of the business’s accounting date. 2023/24 will be the transition year from the current accounting year basis to the new tax year basis. During the transition year, many businesses will experience double taxation. This is because they will be taxed not only on 12 months’ worth of profits from the end of the previous 2022/23 basis period, but there will also be additional ‘transitional profit’ to bring the figures in line with the tax year. Let’s take an example of a partner who has an annual profit share of £80,000 and the partnership accounts are drawn up to 30 June. The overlap profits brought forward are £10,000. The taxable profits in the 2022/23 and 2023/24 tax years would be as shown on the previous page. This is likely to present huge challenges to cash flow and a corresponding reduction in the cash available for drawings. To assist with this, the ‘excess profits’ in the transition year (£50,000 in the above example) can be spread across five years, meaning tax is paid on an extra £10k profits each year from 2023/24 – 2027/28 inclusive. How will it impact farming clients? Farmers and their advisers already must factor farmers’ averaging and the hobby farming rules into any tax planning and the basis period reform will add a further layer of complexity. Combined with the fact that many farmers are embarking on diversification projects, farmers’ tax has never been so complicated! Whilst any transitional profits will be ignored for farmers averaging calculations, some farmers and landowners could still find themselves tipped into a higher tax bracket because of the accelerated profits.

As seen in the example above, any ‘overlap profits’ from the early years of the business can be used to reduce the taxable profit in the transition year. Farm accountants will therefore need to identify available overlap profits sooner rather than later. However, with many family farming businesses having been set up before the advent of Self-Assessment in 1996, locating the paperwork to determine the correct overlap position may not be straightforward. Should farmers change their year end? If a farmer decides to adjust their year-end ahead of the reform, careful consideration should be given to the potential impact on their averaging calculations. With regards to the ‘hobby farming rules’ (which historically have stated that a profit must be made every six years), these must be calculated in accordance with the tax year. Moving to a coterminous year end will therefore make it much simpler for the farm accountants to ensure they do not fall foul of the loss restriction rules. There may be accounting issues to overcome if farmers wish to align their accounting period to the tax year (eg stock valuations). The opportunity for post year-end tax planning is made more difficult with a co-terminous year end. In the example above where accounts are drawn up to 30 June, the partners then have until the following 5 April to decide how much they should put into their pension. This 9 month ‘planning window’ would disappear with a 5 April year end. It could, however, also cause complications for farmers if their current year end is retained; the complexities of changing to a tax year end might simply be replaced with different (and potentially greater) complexities of having to apportion profits and arrive at estimates for tax returns. If a farmer is planning some big equipment purchases, an extended trading period may not result in much (if any) additional tax. In this case, there would be an argument in favour of changing the year end ahead of the proposed reforms, particularly with the £1m Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) now available until 31 March 2023. How can we help? At Scrutton Bland, our team can forecast any additional tax liabilities that might arise as a result of the proposed reforms and consider whether it would be advantageous for you to change your year end. We can also suggest planning opportunities that may lower the amount of tax due (eg the timing of the acquisition of plant and machinery) and assist you if you are considering incorporating your business.

Please get in touch with the team by calling 0330 058 6559 or emailing


Meet the Team We have a long-standing association with the agriculture sector and our specialists have a thorough understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the industry.

We seek to build long-term, trusted relationships with our clients. It is important to us that we understand our clients’ business and personal aims and objectives, in order that we can provide bespoke and personal advice.

Get in touch with a member of the team to see how they can help you.

Nick Banks Business Advisory and Cloud Accounting Partner nick.banks 01473 945762 James Tucker Business Advisory and Cloud Accounting Partner james.tucker 01473 945761 Jason Fayers Managing Partner and Tax Partner jason.fayers 01473 945817 Graham Doubtfire Private Client Tax Partner graham.doubtfire 01206 417267

Ed Nottingham Insurance Director edward.nottingham 01379 773532

Janice Bush Business Advisory Manager janice.bush 01206 417209 Sonja Lambourne Client Manager sonja.lambourne 01473 945768 David Taylor Commercial Account Executive david.taylor 01473 945748 Emily Pinner Business Advisory Account Executive emily.pinner@ 01473 945770

Jack Deal Business Advisory Director 01473 945786

Chris George Tax Advisory Director 01473 945836

Ryan Pearcy SB Digital Director ryan.pearcy@ 01206 417218

Gavin Birchall Tax Partner gavin.birchall 01206 417277

Jo Gilbert Business Advisory Manager jo.gilbert 01473 945765

Clare Thorpe Senior Client Support clare.thorpe@ 01473 945772

0330 058 6559


Scrutton Bland Insurance Brokers Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Our FCA registered number is 828934. 0749/09/2022/MKTG

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