More certainty needed on Scottish business rates

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to show more predictability and certainty in its approach to business rates.

In its submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on reform of the £2.3 billion per year business rates system, CBI Scotland said it wanted to see 'a move away from the often ad hoc introduction of new or additional business rate taxes' that had characterised the past 18 months.

It is calling for:

  • a freeze on any new or extra business rate taxes until 2016
  • the scrapping of the larger retailers levy, which was introduced last year and is set to generate £95 million in extra tax revenues over three years
  • details of rates reliefs and thresholds to be published far in advance of the next commercial property revaluation
  • overpaid monies from refunds for rates reliefs or successful appeals against valuations to be paid promptly

This follows findings by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland of confusion and uncertainty around non-domestic rates. FSB in Scotland's research revealed that 60 per cent of Scottish business owners 'do not know how their business rate valuations are calculated'.

Many firms wrongly believed that rates were set by their local authority, while others expressed frustration at differing valuations of very similar properties.

Head of external affairs in Scotland for the FSB, Colin Borland, said: "The majority of our members report that they find their rates calculations incomprehensible. At the very least, businesses should be given much clearer information about how their bills are calculated."