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Business rates specialist slams Scottish government proposals

The Scottish Government has released the final outcome of its comprehensive review of business rates in Scotland, revealing how the challenge process will operate for the forthcoming 2023 revaluation.

Whereas ratepayers previously had six months to make a simple decision as to whether or not to appeal, from 1 January 2023, they will have just four months and will need to put together a detailed case that could extend to more than 20 pages for some subjects.

Graham Howarth, Partner said “Despite constructive consultation and numerous responses from individuals and trade bodies calling to relax the proposed onerous and cumbersome regulations, the Scottish Government has rejected the recommendations and stormed ahead with plans to introduce a new appeal system designed to reduce the opportunities for businesses to challenge their property taxes from April 2023.

A ratepayer will be required to provide a full statement of case in a shorter timeframe than has previously existed. Scottish ratepayers have submitted 70,000 appeals over the last couple of revaluation cycles; making challenges harder to lodge is likely to mean some miss the boat, which could end up costing Scottish businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Not only are ratepayers faced with this burden but, where they have a grievance with the outcome, the Scottish Government will also be introducing a reform to the tribunal service from 1 January, which is likely to see that process also become more cumbersome and off-putting. All of this comes on top of ratepayers in certain sectors facing significant increases in their rates bills from 1 April 2023, meaning a perfect storm is brewing for Scottish businesses.”

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Graham Howarth