Rate revaluation spells tax hikes for businesses

FIRMS across England and Wales are facing the prospect of dramatic tax hikes in April after changes to Government business rates.

County cricket grounds, lifeboat stations, petrol filling stations, football stadia, coaching inns, golf driving ranges and zoos and safari parks will be among the hardest hit. Pubs, shops and restaurants will also see increases, while most workshops and factories will see lower bills.

The revaluations are carried out every five years, but critics say the 2010 revaluation is unfair because it is based on property values and trading conditions in April 2008, which were better than they are now.

Bills are calculated by multiplying business's rateable value against the national business rate - expected to be 41.4 pence in England this year.

The Government is introducing "transitional relief" which limits the maximum increase a business must pay in 2010 to 12.5 per cent. But bills are set to rise by up to 17.5 per cent in 2011, and up to 25 per cent in 2012, 2013 and 2014.