Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has raised concerns in Parliament following comments by HM Revenue and Customs officials which could discourage farmers from participating in tractor runs and other farming community events due to red diesel rules. At an HMRC event last week, officials indicated that because events such as tractor runs or ploughing matches were considered “pleasure” rather than legitimate agricultural work, farmers should flush out the red diesel from their machines for higher taxed white diesel before participating.
Mr Carmichael has lodged a parliamentary motion with cross-party support to voice concern about this interpretation of the regulations, and to highlight the social benefits of tractor runs and other events to rural communities.
Mr Carmichael said:
“It beggars belief that HMRC seriously expect people to flush out their red diesel in order to join a tractor run. Do they really think that the greatest scourge of tax fraud in this country is caused by farmers joining the occasional social or charity event? A little sense of proportionality and practicality from HMRC would not go amiss.
“At this time of year in particular, anything that brings a bit of light and colour to the streets has got to be welcome. The creativity of our farming community during the festive tractor run was quite spectacular and it was a credit to the organisers and people around the isles that so many participated and so many donated to charitable causes. We should be celebrating and encouraging these sorts of events, not putting ridiculous and impractical tax barriers in the way.”