Tax & admin · 2 November 2018

Government officially axes unpopular staircase tax

The axing of the staircase tax will save firms in England £40m a year

Thousands of small business owners in England will be pleased to know that the widely unpopular “staircase tax” has finally met its end.

As of yesterday, 2 November, thousands of companies in England are able to ask for rebates to their business rates going back as far as 2010 after the so-called staircase tax was repealed.

Under the legislation, companies operating over several floors in the same premises were handed separate business rates assessments for each occupied floor, so long as the floors were separated by communal spaces such as staircases, corridors and elevators.

The tax was widely criticised for hiking business rates for companies utilising workspace over multiple floors while barring them from accessing rates relief that they could only qualify for if they own one property.

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The government bill to reverse the legislation was published last December but was trapped in a state of “ping-pong”, in which it had to go back to the House of Commons to consider amendments proposed by the House of Lords.

The axing of the staircase tax will save firms in England £40m a year, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimated that 80,000 properties were affected by the tax.

Alex Probyn, president of UK expert services at real estate advisor Altus Group, previously described the decision to abolish the legislation as a “victory for common sense.”

“The Government should be applauded for listening and acting decisively to return firms to the tax position that they were in before the court ruling,” Probyn says. “Be in no doubt this is a big post-budget rates boost with the government marking it clear that these appeals will be prioritised.”

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Jennifer is a reporter for Business Advice.