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Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (409)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 5:10
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(Before It's News)

Via MBK from The Times:

The row over business rates, with Tory MPs leading the charge against rises for small companies, has prompted a rethink in the Treasury about the whole way in which companies are taxed. Again, there will be short-term relief in the budget for some of those hit by the recent revaluation, but Mr Hammond has become convinced that much wider changes are required in the longer term.

In his view, it is unfair and anachronistic for businesses to be charged on the basis of the value of property when many of the most lucrative enterprises now operate online. There could be a review of business rates, which date back to 1572, as part of an overhaul designed to make corporate taxation fit for the 21st century.

A tax on land values is not a tax on business, or households, or farmers. It is a 'tax' (actually, a user charge for benefits received/burden placed on those excluded*) on land owners. People owned land in 1572, they own land today, they will continue to own it for as long as nation-states exist and permit it. The basic concept is the same.

A business (or a household or a farmer) which pays rent (or a mortgage) is just paying privately collected tax, so turning his non-logic round, we might as well say that “It is unfair and anachronistic for businesses to be charged rent based on the value of the premises they occupy” which is surely nonsense.

At the same time, the chancellor is determined to ensure that companies are taxed properly on the profits they make in this country — even if their customers are on the internet rather than physically going into a shop. For him this is not about waging a political war on “fat cat” multi-national corporations, such as Google and Facebook, but a question of making the system fit for purpose in the digital age.

Can we stop wailing about small, local retailers on The High Street and blaming their woes on glorified mail order services like Amazon**? If you want to run a small, local business from the High Street, then provide services – hair dressing, repairing mobile phones, a café, estate agent, launderette, whatever - where there are little or no economies of scale – Amazon will never put them out of business. If you want to run something really niche, like second hand books, then the High Street is probably not the place for you, you can sell your stuff via, er, Amazon.

* Which is why Good Queen Bess introduced Poor Rates in the first place – to finance a very rudimentary welfare system.

** If we think that Amazon et al are taking the piss on corporation tax – and there is evidence to suggest they are – then it's easiest to just charge them higher Business Rates on their massive distribution centres and get the money that way.


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