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Taxman loosens noose on farmers

In an effort to mitigate the effects of the severe drought experienced in 2013 the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement announced earlier this week that all commercial agricultural farmers are to be exempted 100% from paying land tax for the financial year 2012/2013.
Deputy Valuer General at the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Protasius Thomas said following the concurrence with the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as required by the Agriculture (commercial) Land Reform Act, 1995, the announcement by the ministry came subsequent to the National Assembly approval on 8 October 2014 of a 0% tax rate in respect of the 2012/2013 financial year land tax assessments.

Thomas said that many of the commercial agricultural farmers had already paid land tax for the financial year 2012/2013.
The exemption applies to all agricultural commercial farmers for the financial years 2012/2013 and all the land owners who have already paid the 2012/2013 land tax but still own their farms will receive credit on their 2013/2014 financial year land tax assessment.
“How ever those who sold their farms during the exemption period (2012/2013 to date) can apply to the ministry with proof of payment for a refund as our team is currently working on the issue of who is to get credit,” said Thomas.
These exemptions are part of the attempts by the ministry to try and cushion farmers and land owners from the effects sustained during the 2013 drought which was so severed that it was declared a state of emergency.
Meanwhile the Economist spoke to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) Executive Manager Sakkie Coetzee, who welcomed the move by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement as well as the input by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to give farmers a break in an effort to aid them financially.
He said that the recent decision to exempt farmers can allow farmers and producers to redirect their funds in attaining more fodder for their animals as well as channel the money which was meant for the 2012/2013 land tax to other agricultural needs in the coming seasons.
Coetzee said farmers had been contributing close to N$35 million per annum in taxes to the ministry and this recent development can allow for producers to utilise the tax exemption period to recover.
Earlier last year in accordance with the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995, Act 6 of 1995, land tax was to be paid by agricultural land owners and the failure thereof would have resulted in a fine of N$20,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Coetzee said the announcement will see many agricultural land owners breathe a sigh of relief.

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