Government

UK Treasury rejects business rates reform calls

The UK Treasury has today rejected calls from retailers and restaurants who say business rates should be reformed to create a level playing field with online retailers.

During a meeting of parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, chancellor Philip Hammond said reforming international corporation tax was a higher priority for the government, adding that his department had already looked into business rates reform in 2016 and found “no consensus on an alternative base”.

In a letter to committee chair Nicky Morgan, Hammond said: “Respondents agreed that property-based taxes were easy to collect, difficult to avoid, relatively stable compared to other taxes and had a clear link with local authority spending.”

The chancellor’s rejection comes at a time when a growing number of UK high street retailers are asking for reforms in order to be able to compete against online retailers. Retailers pay an average of £8bn per year in business rates and are currently facing a decline in high street footfall and increases in other costs.

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