Charities urged to give views on business rate reform

Charities are being urged to give their views on the future of business rates in England.

The terms of reference for a review of business rates had been announced promised in March and now charities and other organisations are being asked for views on how the system works, issues that need to be addressed and alternative taxation.

Among factors for the review, which will report in autumn, are to reduce the burden on businesses.

Of specific interest to charities is the future of charitable rate relief. Currently 80% is available to properties occupied by charities for charitable purposes.

The review also looks at ways to stop abuse of the rate relief system. This includes those claiming empty property relief, which grants 100% rate relieve for three months on empty properties.

However, under a list of misuse of empty property relief, the review says that owners are granting leases on vacant properties to charities claiming the property will be used for charitable purposes when next in use.

The Charity Tax Group is to respond to the review and is urging charities to submit their views to the government on the future of business rates.

It says that concerns around the current system include its complexity and abuse.

“The government is seeking evidence on whether and how reliefs can be simplified, targeted more effectively to ensure value for public money, made robust against abuse, or how the design and administration of business rates reliefs can be otherwise improved to ensure the sustainability of public finances,” said the Charity Tax Group.

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