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Tax avoidance makes farmland pricier

Dec. 9, 2007 at 12:59 AM

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The rich seeking a legal way to avoid inheritance tax have driven up the price of farmland in Scotland.

An annual survey by Strutt & Parker, a major real estate agency, found that this year more than one-third of the buyers of farms did so far tax reasons, The Scotsman reported. That made them the leading group, buying 36 percent of the farms, while 24 percent were already farmers, 22 percent were people seeking a rural lifestyle and 18 percent were relocating.

Under British tax rules, farmland is not taxed as part of an inheritance. The land must continue to be farmed, but owners can install a tenant or manager and keep their own hands clean.

Strutt & Parker said several buyers are chasing each farm that goes up for sale.

John Kinnaird, a farmer in East Lothian, told The Scotsman he fears the government will change the tax rules, hurting legitimate farmers.

"Higher land values may help the farmer in one sense, but the downside is that it inhibits any opportunity for young people to come into farming," Kinnaird said.

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