Following a year of deliberation, the new Act of Parliament designed to reverse the Staircase Tax (caused by the Supreme Court decision in Woolway v Mazars) has now been enacted.
As usual, with business rates, the devil is in the detail. I suspect that the working of the Act (especially Section 3ZD) is so broad that is going to have to see a significant amount of input from the Tribunals and Courts before it becomes truly workable.
In the 2017 Autumn Budget, the government stated that their aim was “reinstating the previous valuation practice in multi-occupancy buildings, which applied before the recent Supreme Court judgement”. Given that (unsurprisingly) the Act does not mention the Supreme Court case, the world of Business Rates is left wondering which set of rules are to be adopted? The “old fashioned” rules of Lord Denning’s decision in Gilbert v Hickinbottom (and countless subsequent cases), or a combination of the Supreme Court’s decision in Woolway and the wording of the new Act – which I suspect will not achieve the government’s original stated aim.
The Act does however give the right to make fresh appeals (in some cases) all the way back to 1st April 2010. Given the length of time that it is likely to take to hammer out all the details, it is fair to say that this particular subject is likely to be topical for some time to come.
Note: The new Act referred to is the Rating (Property In Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018.
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For further information contact:
Baker Davidson Thomas
Telephone: 01256 840 777
6th November 2018