The Government are drawing up plans to limit businesses appealing their business rates bills in England despite Councils currently sitting on £2.8billion earmarked for tax rebates a move experts say is anti-business.
It is understood that the Government see “clear benefits to introducing a cut-off point for appeals” against rateable values which came into effect on 1st April 2017 in order to bring certainty to Council finances and are actively considering bringing forward legislation to stop retrospective appeals in just 8 months time.
Last month, Rishi Sunak the former Minister for Local Government, told the influential Treasury Select Committee’s inquiry into business rates, that £2.8billion was being held in reserve by local government awaiting the outcome of successful business rates appeals.
According to the real estate adviser Altus Group, when the Multiplier used to calculate business rates bills for the 2017 revaluation was set, an extra 2.1p was included within the small and standard rates of tax of 46.6p and 47.7p to raise sufficient revenues to cover losses. Those rates of tax have subsequently increased annually to take into account inflation.
Alex Probyn, President of Expert Services at Altus Group, is urging the Government to abandon the plans saying that such legislative changes would be seen as “anti business” adding “the appeals pool is funded by all ratepayers through additional tax paid to cover losses and with businesses still finding their feet with the new regulations governing appeals a cut-off could deny tens of thousands of ratepayers a significant tax stimulus whilst the inevitable panic to beat any deadline could grind the system to a halt significantly delaying meritorious appeals.”
At the end of March this year, ratepayers had successfully registered 258,170 non domestic properties on the Government Gateway in readiness to commence an appeal with less than a third so far taking the first formal stage of an appeal with a Check.
An MHCLG spokesperson said of the proposed cut-off for appeals on 31st March 2020 that no final decision had yet been taken although they were “considering arrangements” and “would set out their position in due course”.