Following consultation with its charity members, CFG has responded to the Government's consultation on business rates avoidance and evasion.
The consultation was launched in July by HM Treasury and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It follows the announcement in the Spring Budget that the Government would explore the causes of, and potential measures to combat, avoidance, evasion, and poor rating agent behaviour within the business rates system.
While the Government acknowledges that the 'vast majority of those who engage with the business rates system do so honestly and transparently' it says there is a 'small minority' exploiting the business rates system.
Specifically, the Government is looking to understand the impact of removing the 'next in use' exemption which can be used by charities and CASCs.
In its response, CFG set out the circumstances in which the exemption is used by charities and CASCs, adding:
'There is a likelihood that charities and CASCs making genuine use of the ‘next in use’ exemption would be adversely affected and hit with additional business rate costs, should the exemption be removed and no mitigating arrangements put in place. It could penalise those genuinely making use of measures such as the EPR ‘next in use’ exemption.'
CFG went on to say that the proposal could be like using a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut'.
In September, the Treasury moved to qualm fears saying 'there are no plans to remove EPR for anyone'. You can read those comments and more in third party news reports here (Civil Society) and here (Third Sector).
The government is now analysing responses and CFG will share an update in due course.
If you have any questions about the consultation or issues raised, please email CFG's Policy Team.
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