Its been around for years now but the controversial empty property rates tax is still hitting the headlines as landlords and office space operators continue to speak out against the unpopular tax regulations.

The empty property rates tax was introduced by Government in April 2008. Coinciding with the onset of the recession, the tax calls for all businesses to pay full business rates on empty commercial property.

Yesterday, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported that the CEO of flexible office operator Bizspace has been voicing his disdain over empty property rates to a local MP in Huddersfield.

Like many landlords and office space operators across the country Bizspace has been feeling the effects of the empty property rates tax and the company is now footing an annual bill of £1.2 million. That is despite maintaining high occupancy levels at established centres, like the two that the operator runs in Huddersfield which currently average over 80% occupancy rates.

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney attended a meeting with Bizspace CEO Gareth Evans at one of the operator’s Huddersfield centres at Marsh Mills. Mr Evans told the local MP that the area in which Bizspace is suffering the most is expansion. While established centres are not being affected so badly, opening new business centres with low occupancy levels has become impossible due to such high rates enforced by the empty property tax.

Mr Evans was quoted as saying: “It takes time to administer the empty rates when we should be spending that time attracting small businesses into our centres.” He added: “Rate relief is great for small businesses, but small businesses tend to be in flexible space like ours – and we are being penalised by empty property rates.”

Mr McCartney commented: “Empty property rates bring in billions of pounds to the Exchequer and if we take money out of the Treasury we have to look at how we cover the deficit.” He added: “At the same time, we have a lot of mills in our area which could be supporting start-up businesses and helping them grow given the right incentive.”

Mr McCartney plans to speak in a Commons debate about empty property rates later today.

Is your Business Centre being affected by the empty property rates tax? Write in and tell us your views on the big tax debate! 

Reference: The Huddersfield Daily Examiner 

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