More than 180,000 firms appealing their business rates
Over 180,000 business rates appeals totalling £2 billion are waiting to be dealt with by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), and business rates specialist CVS estimates that it will take two years for the VOA to hear all the outstanding appeals. The average time to conclude an appeal is currently 18 months.
There has been a significant increase in the number of appeals being made since the beginning of the recession, which the VOA attributed to a rise in the number of spurious claims made by agents or bodies acting on behalf of businesses.
IR35 investigations triple over past year
HMRC opened 256 new IR35 investigations into consultants and freelancers in 2012/13, up from just 59 in 2011/12, according to official figures. HMRC revealed that the majority of cases it had investigated concerned high-risk and “wilfully non-compliant” companies i.e. where all their contracts would fall within the scope of IR35.
Robin Wythes, HMRC Employment Status Team Leader, explained that HMRC is now “trying to see IR35 from the view of the worker,” and that there is a need to make Business Entity Tests – part of the IR35 guidance released last year – “fit for purpose.”