Chartered Institute of Taxation welcomes wide-ranging review of Business Rates

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed the launch of a fundamental review of Business Rates in England. The Government published a call for evidence today following an initial announcement at Budget 2020.

Kersten Muller of the CIOT’s Business Rates Working Group said:

“The case for a fundamental review of business rates is overwhelming, though it will be a challenge for the Government to satisfy all interested parties, especially at a time when finances are likely to be tight.

“There are some reforms it should be possible to build consensus around, however. Transparency around the criteria for business rates reliefs and the processes for claiming them matters to business -  and to local authorities - that both collect business rates and are reliant upon them to fund local services.

“Billing authorities have the autonomy to run their business rates system as they see fit. There is no obligation for them to be consistent in whether reliefs are applied automatically or not. Businesses find it difficult to know what reliefs they are eligible for, and local authority guidance on reliefs can be limited. How a relief is claimed varies too – some authorities offering an online facility while others use paper forms; the forms themselves differ between authorities.

“The review is seeking evidence on whether and how reliefs can be simplified, targeted more effectively, made robust against abuse and how the design and administration of business rates reliefs can be otherwise improved.   The focus should be on a system that reflects the way businesses use property in the 21st century. Continual tinkering with the system does not create the best results.”