Ahead of the new tax year starting on Wednesday the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is being urged to get billions of pounds worth of tax rebates back into the bank accounts of businesses to help aid cash flow as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic before it is too late providing what the British Retail Consortium say would be a vital lifeline given the lockdown.
Dominic Curran, the British Retail Consortium’s Property Adviser, said “In these exceptional circumstances the Government should settle all outstanding business rates appeals without question and pay back the money claimed by ratepayers. It would offer a vital lifeline for many retailers.”
Britain’s largest ratings advisory, Altus Group, say since the 2017 business rates revaluation began, around £4.1billion of gross business rates revenue has been factored into the total amount collected in business rates by Councils to cover the costs of the outcome of successful appeals protecting Local and Central Government finances against losses.
In April 2017, when the new tax rates were set, whilst they ensured that the effects of the revaluation were revenue neutral, they were also increased by 2.1p to counteract against losses from successful appeals according to Altus Group.
Alex Probyn, Altus Group’s UK President of Expert Services, says “on the assumption that the new system of appeal was designed to only attract meritorious appeals, and with settlement levels very low, there are now significant and substantial funds held by Councils earmarked and reserved for tax rebates back to business.”
Dominic Curran agrees saying that it was “unacceptable that billions of pounds were sat in Councils’ reserves doing nothing at this time of national crisis. It is money that has already been collected to cover business rate appeals. Many of these businesses may not even be around in a few months to receive it unless the Chancellor acts now.”
Separately there are calls for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs time to pay scheme to be extended to businesses rates and for all enforcement action over arrears to be suspended. Altus Group say, during the 2018/19 financial year, around 750 non domestic properties every working day were summonsed before a Magistrate over arrears with around 310 of those properties being referred to Bailiff firms.