Tax & admin · 22 November 2017

Autumn Budget 2017: Chancellor abandons the staircase tax

The chancellor admitted that the staircase tax created uncertainty for many small business owners
The chancellor admitted the staircase tax created uncertainty for many small business owners

Thousands of small business owners will be celebrating the abolition of the so-called “staircase tax”, after the chancellor used the Autumn Budget to call time on the unpopular levy.

As part of a series of modifications to the business rates system designed to “ease pressure” for struggling firms, Hammond said in his Budget speech that he had “listened” to business owners affected by the tax.

Under staircase tax rules, companies operating over several floors within the same property were handed separate business rates assessments for each occupied floor, as opposed to one bill for the entire premises. The backdated tax was initially introduced after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in August 2017.

It was widely criticised for unfairly penalising firms with separate office spaces in the same building.

Business owners affected by the staircase tax will have their original bills reinstated, Hammond confirmed.

Commenting on the announcement, Alex Probyn, president of the business rates division of Altus Group, Britain’s largest ratings advisory, said it marked “a victory for common sense”.

It restores fairness whilst reducing an incredibly inflated workload for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), allowing it to focus attention on dealing with appeals.

“The law should now say that any properties which are contiguous, whether by exclusive access or not, can be classed as one hereditament to prevent bigger tax bills across the board.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) had previously voiced its opposition to the levy, and expressed its support for the today’s decision.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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