Yesterday (Wednesday 5th February) Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP’s) voted in support of the Non-Domestic Rates bill, a bill that will now become legislation.
The Bill delivers measures to support growth, improve administration and increase fairness, of note was:
- three-year revaluations
- a one-year tone date to ensure rateable values are more up to date and accurate
- systemic reforms to the appeals system
- provides stronger anti-avoidance powers to council
- greater information gathering powers for assessors and councils
- earlier debt recovery powers for councils
- removing the eligibility for charitable relief from mainstream independent schools
Public Finance Minster Kate Forbes commented, “The majority of these reforms have been widely welcomed by businesses and councils alike. They will modernise the system, tackle tax avoidance and address long term frustrations with the appeals system as well as protecting vital business rates relief offered by the Scottish Government.
“This Non-Domestic Rates Bill is too important to play games with and I’m pleased Parliament has supported this Bill and returned it to its original purpose of implementing the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates.”
Business Rates expert Graham Isle commented, “The announced bill will be a welcome one for most Scottish businesses. Removing the eligibility for charitable relief for independent schools could be a concern however as rates could become a major financial burden for the independent schools that currently receive the mandatory relief and it will be interesting to see if England and Wales follow suit.
“Whilst this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction we still believe that further reform is needed to improve and modernise the business rates system in Scotland.”