Posted 22 October 2009
Harper Adams University College students have taken part in a centenary masterclass with the country’s leading agricultural valuers.
The masterclass was initiated to mark the centenary visit of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers to the University College, itself more than one hundred years old.
Four of the college’s top valuation students joined five of the country’s leading agricultural valuers to review some of the hottest issues currently facing rural valuers.
Jeremy Moody, national adviser and holder of the first honorary doctorate awarded by the Shropshire University College, outlined current thinking on the treatment of farmland and farmhouses for Inheritance Tax. This has been a contentious area in recent years with cases going to the courts from Warwickshire, Cornwall, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The masterclass was also joined by Geoff Coster, national agricultural specialist with the government’s Valuation Office Agency and District Valuer in Shrewsbury.
Seminar organiser Charles Cowap, director of the Harper Adams Employer Engagement Programme, said: “Between them, Jeremy and Geoff have unparalleled experience in this area and the students were given an in-depth appraisal of recent cases and their implications for farmers and landowners. CAAV Vice-President Rowland Beaney added weight to the discussions with his experience as an arbitrator and consultant in Suffolk.”
The seminar drew some important conclusions for farmers and their advisers:
• Getting IHT wrong can cost a lot of money, and by the time you know you have got it wrong it’s too late to do anything about it;
• Careful planning, with regular updating, is the key to success;
• Great care is needed as clients get older, it’s too easy for the gentle decline into old age to lead to the loss of valuable tax reliefs and needlessly large tax bills;
• Farmhouses must be kept with a reasonable amount of land at all costs. Costly mistakes have been made when land has been let or sold away from the farmhouse, or even given away to other members of the family;
• It’s never too soon to start planning;
• Every substantial change in business policy or structure will have implications for Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax. It is vital to study the relevant law and case decisions first-hand if good advice is to be given.
Mr Cowap added: “This has been an excellent opportunity for our top students to meet the country’s leading practitioners, real professional leaders who are at the top of their game. We have reviewed in depth some of the major challenges facing farmers and their advisers today, inspiring the students to raise their own performance to the highest levels.
“It was a very fitting celebration of the CAAV centenary, and a successful exercise that we now hope to repeat when we have more VIP visits in the future”.