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Government scraps plans to tighten business rates appeal process

The government has abandoned plans to make the business rates appeal process tougher, after the industry urged ministers to press forward with a more in-depth review of the tax instead.

In December last year the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation into the appeals process for business rates, but this week (July 31) it published an open letter on its website, that said it had “decided to fold the consideration of reform of the business rates appeals process” into a broader review of the business rates system instead.

Under the proposed changes companies would have been required to provide detailed explanations about why they were challenging their existing business rates.

Currently the appeal process allows retailers to challenge their business rate bills if the levels set at the last revaluation of the tax, conducted in 2007, is not deemed to be in line with their property rental payments.

Retailers have long argued that the business rates system has stymied growth. The proposals drew 70 responses from local authorities, rating agents, industry bodies and businesses, the DCLG said.

A wholesale reconsideration of business rates was promised by Chancellor George Osborne in his 2013 Autumn Statement. Any reforms to the system, which generates £25bn a year for the Treasury, would take place from 2017.  

“Many respondents took the opportunity to raise views on the broader nature of the current business rates system,” the open letter read. “Respondents also welcomed the government’s intention to reform the appeals process but argued that the government should consider reform in the broader context of the review of business rates administration.”

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