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Government said to 'favour' business rates self-assessment

The government is leaning towards introducing self-assessment for business rates akin to that used for income tax, property firm Colliers International has claimed.

Colliers said it has learned that the “big four” accountancy firms - Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG - have been consulted on how to make self-assessment work.

This would place the burden of red tape on to the ratepayer to make a correct assessment or face significant penalties, it added.

Business rates levels are currently recalculated by the Valuation Office Agency (VAO) every five years, but there has been pressure on the government to introduce more frequent revaluations.

In March 2016, the government launched a consultation on whether to introduce more frequent revaluations, but it has not yet published its response to the submissions.

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers International, said: “The official line is that the government is looking at all the options. However, my sources have confirmed that the ‘big four’ have been consulted on how to make self-assessment work and what lessons could be learned from personal taxation.

“I now understand the government favours self-assessment not only as a way of delivering more frequent revaluations, but also as a quick-fire method of cutting costs at the VOA which is itself sitting on a backlog of over 300,000 business rates appeals.”

Colliers is calling on the government to provide clarity over its plans as soon as possible.

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