// Councils sued 190,000 non-domestic properties over business rates in 2018-2019 financial year
// Richmond & Wandsworth councils sue 27.6% of all non-domestic properties
// Altus Group: “Tax stimulus is desperately needed”
While shops, pubs and restaurants struggle to meet growing property taxes, councils are suing 750 firms a day over business rates arrears.
An investigation by Altus Group found that in the last financial year of 2018 to 2019, 190,000 non-domestic premises – including retailers p in England were brought before a magistrate for non-payment of their business rates.
As industry bodies including the BRC battle for lower business rates to aid the survival of the high street, the new reports find companies are struggling to cope with an increasing tax burden from councils.
Following a request from Altus Group for all councils in England to provide details of how many businesses had been summonsed between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, Altus found that 9.83 per cent of all non-domestic premises had been issued summons, equating to around 750 business every working day of the year.
Westminster topped the leaders board for the most summonsing by volume, with 6882 summons, meanwhile Richmond and Wandsworth councils came in top for the percentage of premises sued, with 27.6 per cent.
Liverpool was the only council to appear on both line-ups, coming in fourth for most summonsing councils by volume, with 4254 summons and 22 per cent of premises sued.
Property taxes in the UK, as a percentage of overall taxation, are the highest across the whole of the EU being more than double the average.
Altus Group argue that the findings go beyond simple tax avoidance, and that the government’s reliance on property for tax revenues is too great.
“With 1,255,800 of non-domestic premises actually having rates liabilities to pay, in real terms 15.14 per cent of firms, almost one in every six with an actual bill, received a summons to appear before a magistrate during the last year,” Altus Group head of UK business rates Robert Hayton said.
Hayton added that a tax stimulus was“desperately needed” with “major retail and hospitality businesses reducing their estates and headcount often citing high level of rates as a contributory factor whilst other sectors, such as manufacturing, were hurting too”.