By Altus Group | November 22, 2017

Comment by Alex Probyn, president of the UK business rates division of Altus Group

Shorter revaluation periods – switch from 5 to 3 years
“A shorter valuation period undoubtedly has benefits in terms of the speed at which value changes are passed on to ratepayers, but there is an inevitable increase in costs in revaluing more frequently. Government has stated that any changes must be revenue neutral and this appears to mean that those extra costs will be passed to the ratepayer. An apparently popular option, self-assessment, is fraught with difficulties and is too high a price to pay.”

“Self-assessment essentially shifts the costs of setting value onto the ratepayers, placing the burden on them to make a correct assessment or face penalties.”

“You can’t compare income tax with business rates. Most businesses lack access to the rental information on comparable buildings that is typically needed to establish the market value of the property they occupy. Those businesses that can afford to will buy data or engage the services of rating agents to undertake the self-assessment on their behalf. The remit of the VOA effectively changes from one of assessing to policing.”

Staircase tax
“This is a victory for common sense.  It restores fairness whilst reducing an incredibly inflated workload for the Valuation Office Agency, allowing them to focus their attention on dealing with appeals.”

“The law should now say that any properties which are contiguous, whether by exclusive access or not, can be classed as one hereditament to prevent bigger tax bills across the board.”

Annual inflationary increase
“Even with rates rises limited next year to September’s CPI rate of 3%, this still drives revenue receipts up by £884 million with the struggling retail sector shouldering £226 million of that rise.”

“A switch to CPI brings a concession in tax rises of about £266million, but this is a pretty cheap giveaway by Government. The Chancellor should have gone further. A rates liability freeze was the minimum that business needed.”

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