‘Unfair staircase tax’ for offices challenged

Backdated tax demands being sent to businesses with offices in communal blocks are “particularly unfair”, the head of a committee of MPs has said.

Dubbed the “staircase tax” by critics, business rates in England and Wales are being set depending on how many rooms are being used and how they are linked.

Those with more than one office linked by a communal lift, corridors or stairs are being charged more.

Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan has questioned the move.

In a letter to Melissa Tatton, chief executive of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets the rates, Mrs Morgan has asked how many businesses are being hit and what is being done to mitigate the impact.

“On the face of it, it seems unfair to tax businesses differently depending solely on whether the staircases between their rooms are communal or private,” she said.

“It seems particularly unfair for the increase in rates to be backdated. I have written to Ms Tatton to ascertain the reasons for the VOA backdating it. ”

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