One in six has faced business rate summons
Almost one in six companies that pay business rates have faced the threat of court action over arrears, according to research that is likely to prompt fresh concerns over the burden of the commercial property tax.
A year after the contentious revaluation of business rates, it has been estimated that about 190,000 companies received a summons to appear before magistrates over unpaid bills.
Altus Group, a firm of property advisers that conducted the research based on freedom of information requests to every council in England, said this meant that 15.2 per cent of businesses that received rates demands had been pursued over unpaid tax debts. Robert Hayton, head of business rates at Altus Group, said that this was not always the result of deliberate tax avoidance and that many companies were simply struggling to meet the cost.
Business rates bring in about £29 billion a year for the government. The first revaluation of rates in seven years was conducted in April 2017. They are based on the value of commercial property and the annual rate of inflation.
The latest revaluation resulted in lower bills for many, but about half a million properties were hit with rises. Mr Hayton said that quirks in the new approach meant that “many businesses ended up paying disproportionately high bills in locations where local economies were underperforming and [property] values had fallen”.
By James Hurley at The Times