Brownfield boost as empty building tax rate increases

The Government is to reduce the tax relief for business premises standing empty to get them back into use under new legislation to promote the re-use of brownfield land published on Friday.

Owners of disused shops or offices currently pay no tax for the first three months the building is left standing empty and 50% in following months – an approach local government minister Phil Woolas dubbed “daft” given the UK’s high commercial rents.

To discourage owners from leaving shops, offices, factories or warehouses disused and boost regeneration the minister published legislation that will slash the “business rate relief” for empty properties.

Although the initial three-month tax-free period will remain intact, owners of empty commercial buildings will pay full business rate tax thereafter. Factories and warehouses are awarded a six-month tax free period, while charities and community sports clubs will be exempt from tax on empty premises.

“The reforms will encourage owners of empty properties to bring them back into use, helping to create thriving and vibrant town centres. No-one wants to live or work next to an empty property, and it is frankly daft for the state to subsidise it when commercial rents are so high,” Phil Woolas said.

“That is why a package of reforms that will drive down those rents, encourage business growth, and promote brownfield development is needed.

“As well as reforming empty property rates, from last month a new 100% capital allowance is available for the cost of renovating or converting unused businesses in deprived areas.

Full details of the new legislation can be found here.

Goska Romanowicz

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