A “radical” review of business rates could bring in major changes to the way the annual charge is paid on 1.8 million properties in England.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the review on 16 March. It is due to report back by the 2016 Budget on issues including the structure of the current system, how businesses use property, what the UK can learn from other countries about local business taxes and how the business rates regime could be modernised to better reflect changes in the value of property.
Mr Alexander said: “Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.
“The government has taken measures to help businesses by capping rates and introducing reliefs for smaller businesses. But now the time has come for a radical review of this important tax. We want to ensure the business rates system is fair, efficient and effective.”
From 1 April 2015, assistance with business rates includes an increase in the discount for smaller retail premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or below to £1,500 until 31 March 2016.
Small business rate relief has also been doubled for a further year to 31 March 2016 ensuring 385,000 small businesses pay no rates at all.
The government has issued a discussion paper seeking views on the issue, with a deadline of 12 June.