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Small firms could be missing out

Small firms across Shropshire could slash thousands of pounds off their business rates bill – or avoid paying rates at all – under the Government’s latest tax changes.

“Business rates have been under the spotlight for some time now in an attempt to ease the burden on small firms,” said Tony Elliott, Senior Tax Planner at our Shrewsbury and Telford offices.

“The amount of business rates which a company must pay depends on various factors, including the rateable value of the property, and whether it is eligible for rate relief.  But there are several opportunities to save money.  For example, if you run a small business where the property has a rateable value of less than £12,000, you may be eligible to claim Small Business Rate Relief.”

Tony said: “Under the scheme, small businesses with a rateable value of £6,000 or less are currently eligible for a 100% deduction in their business rates – they don’t have to pay anything.  The relief is gradually reduced on a sliding scale for those small businesses with a rateable value of between £6,001 and £12,000.  In Shropshire, this could mean savings for many small firms.”

He said certain businesses may also be entitled to claim other reliefs or concessions, under the latest Government tax rules which have come into effect since the start of April.

“For example, retail businesses such as pubs, cafes, restaurants and charity shops with a rateable value of £50,000 or less can get a £1,000 business rate discount this financial year, and the next. If you think you may qualify, it is worth contacting the local council to see if you meet the eligibility criteria.”

And Tony also urged firms to investigate a new ‘business rates re-occupation relief’ which offers a 50% subsidy to firms moving into empty premises between now and March 2016.

"The relief applies for 18 months up to the State aid limits for businesses that move into retail premises that have been empty for a year or more.

"Businesses in a rural area with a population below 3,000 may also qualify for a business rates discount of between 50% and 100% - another useful schcme, given the nature of the shropshire area.

"Certain buildings are also exempt from business rates, and you are not required to pay business rates on buildings that have been empty for three months.  Does your company qualify?

"It is important to take professional advice to ensure you are not missing out on something which could be of real benefit to your business."

Tony Elliot, Dyke Yaxley's Senior Tax Planner