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Penalty charges proposed as part of business rate appeals

If there was not enough wailing about business rates already, the Government is doing its best to cause even more fury by proposing penalty notices as part of the new ‘Check Challenge Appeal’ process.

The draft regulations laid before Parliament at the end of 2017 impose a penalty of £500 (reduced to £200 for “small proposers”) for incorrect information supplied in, or in connection with, a proposal to alter the rating list.

The penalty follows information supplied that is “false in a material particular” and is supplied “knowingly, recklessly or carelessly”.

The “in connection with” phrase is vague and could apply to all stages of the process. “Small proposers” relates to businesses with a turnover or balance sheet less than £2m and fewer that ten employees.

These regulations still have to be debated and approved by Parliament, so it certainly is not a done deal. Please Parliament, do the right thing!

Along with the fees required to lodge an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal England, you have to conclude that this is just another ruse to discourage businesses from challenging their business rates and seeking justice rather than any meaningful addition to make the CCA process more efficient.

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The regulations were approved in parliament some weeks ago; but not before the CCA system and its software were criticised. When ministers tell the world that the software problems are almost completely overcome, I can only conclude that they are being given incorrect advice.

The cloak of taxpayer confidentiality thrown over information held by VOA (new from 2016) seems designed, also, to restrain appeals and to oblige appellants to pay for the preparation of a full case and to disclose it to VOA before the Agency has to do anything to explain how the assessment has been calculated

The rating system is the only system of taxation of which I am aware in which the taxpayer is not told how its assessment is calculated – and in my opinion, that is wrong

By Peter Scrafton

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