Forestry owner wins €1.4m CGT row with Revenue
Dispute related to sales of land worth €10m over two transactions
A forestry owner has won a €1.4 million Capital Gains Tax (CGT) dispute with Revenue relating to the sale of property valued at €10 million which was mainly comprised of woodland.
Tax Appeals Commissioner Claire Millrine reduced Revenue’s CGT demand of €1.4m served on the businessman to nil.
The disposal of woodland is exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Ms Millrine rejected Revenue’s case that the value the businessman put on the woodland part of the assets sold was overstated.
Ms Millrine said she was satisfied that the woodland values obtained by the forestry owner were based on contemporaneous valuation reports prepared by independent expert valuers, all of which are consistent in terms of the valuations ascribed to the woodland and/or trees.
Accordingly, she said, Revenue was incorrect to raise the assessments. She found that Revenue’s “valuations carry little persuasive value”.
The forestry owner and his wife disposed of around 385 acres of mainly forestry lands for €6 million in 2012. The lands had planning permission for the construction of a wind farm.
In 2016, the couple sold a further 323 acres of woodland for €4 million.
They put a value of €4.38 million – or €11,900 per acre – on the woodland in the 2012 sale, leaving €1.62 million liable for CGT.
The appellant paid €141,031 CGT on the sale but Revenue determined the correct bill should have €941,431 – a difference of €800,400.
In relation to the 2016 €4 million sale, the couple put a value of €3.3 million on the woodland – or €10,223 per acre – leaving €700,000 liable for a CGT charge.
However, Revenue determined that an additional €629,158 CGT liability was due on the transaction.
Revenue issued the combined €1.429 million CGT demand and after contending that the value of woodland from the 2012 disposal should have been €4,000 per acre and €4,438 per acre from the 2016 sale.
The woodland owner appealed the €1.4 million CGT demand to the Tax Appeals Commission.
In her determination, Ms Millrine said she was satisfied that an approved, measurable and scientific approach was taken to the valuation of the trees growing on the land, by two of the forestry owner’s witnesses.
By contrast, Ms Millrine found the evidence of Revenue’s expert witness “to have little persuasive value”. She said the witness was not particularly objective or impartial in his approach, where he was unwilling to consider his opinion in light of new facts arising.
The forestry owner told the commission hearing that he engaged four experts to ascertain the value of the woodland in relation to the disposals and the apportionment to be applied to his tax returns.
A forestry consultant on behalf of the appellant told the commission that the underlying value of the land is negligible and that the value is the trees.
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