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Budget should 'scrap empty property tax'

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A paper published by the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA) calling for a resumption of rate relief on all empty properties has today been backed by the British Property Federation (BPF).

Lobby group TPA’s report from yesterday claimed that rate relief on smaller empty properties was worth £1.2 billion last year and that taxes on vacant properties had led to many perfectly good buildings being destroyed in recent times as landlords looked to avoid the charge.

Companies used to pay only 50 per cent of property rates whilst buildings stood empty but this was scrapped by the Labour government. Temporary relief was set up during the height of the recession for low-value buildings, but this measure is now set to expire.

BPF, the representative group for the property industry, supports the TPA’s paper and argues that the government should announce a permanent relief on all properties in this week’s Budget.

Liz Peace, CEO of BPF, commented: “The property industry welcomes the publication of this timely report, which reinforces much of what we have said about this economically destructive tax.

“It is now clear that charging Empty Property Rates is an unfair burden on tax-payers that is restricting economic growth, and has caused millions of square feet of perfectly usable business space to be demolished.”

Tax on empty properties is just one issue that retailers are keen for the government to address during this week’s Budget, with the industry arguing that current rates are restricting growth.

National shop vacancy rates are currently above 14 per cent, according to a study from the Local Data Company, whilst in some areas such as Morecombe and Margate the figure is much higher at over 30 per cent.

Peace added: “Government claims to be serious about allowing businesses to drive the UK’s recovery, but hiking tax on empty properties threatens to scupper many firms’ ability to grow.

“We would urge ministers - many of whom were so critical of the tax in opposition - to scrap this enemy of enterprise in Wednesday’s Budget.”

Published on Monday 21 March by Editorial Assistant

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