The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee, on which Kenneth Gibson MSP serves, is asking for views on the various proposals in the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill.
Non-domestic rates, also called business rates, are levied on business properties with monies raised used to fund local services. The Bill is the first of its kind to propose wide scale changes to the current system in Scotland.
One of the proposals entails removing the ability of mainstream independent schools to claim charitable relief. The Bill also aims to address what the SNP Government describes as a known tax avoidance tactic involving unoccupied or under-used properties.
The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 25 March 2019 and follows the Barclay review which made a series of recommendations seeking to enhance and reform non-domestic rates in Scotland.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
"Non-domestic rates are the second highest revenue raising tax in Scotland and these reforms could affect a great number of people.
“The SNP Government supports businesses and therefore the 2019/20 budget provides the most generous package of business rates reliefs in the UK, and ensures more than 90% of properties in Scotland will be charged a lower tax rate than other parts of the UK. The Small Business Bonus Scheme provided £5.52 million of support to 2,734 businesses across North Ayrshire in 2017/18 – a 26.7% increase on the £4,355 million of the previous year. Furthermore, measures are saving small business owners across North Ayrshire up to £7,200 this year and in 2019/20 this could rise to £7,350.
“On the other hand, to keep the system as fair as possible, we should also endeavour to collect a contribution from businesses where there is no reason not to.
“Our Committee is keen to hear the views of potentially affected organisations and members of the public about the proposed changes to the system, and whether the Government has addressed the issues raised in the Barclay review.
“We also want to know if people think anything else should be included in this Bill or if more radical reform of the system is needed. We look forward to hearing what the public has to say and using the evidence to ensure our inquiry is as robust as possible.”
The Committee is seeking views on several proposals including:
• tax relief reforms for new or improved properties, intended to encourage development and investment in business properties;
• revaluation of properties subject to non-domestic rates being carried out every 3 years rather than every 5 years;
• a measure intended to address a perceived ‘loophole’ that enables owners of holiday homes to avoid both council tax and non-domestic rates by making it more difficult to enter a home on the roll;
• clarification as to when sports clubs should be allowed rates relief;
• an alteration to enable councils to initiate debt recovery proceedings for unpaid rates sooner.
You can participate in the consultation via the Committee’s webpage until 30 May 2019.
The Bill and accompanying documents can be found here.