Belfast Telegraph

Retailers' tax 'consistency needed'

Reducing corporation tax will not boost confidence if extra business rates are levied instead, large traders have warned.

The Executive may potentially take powers to reduce taxes on some company profits but the benefit could be undermined if a new charge is introduced, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) added.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is consulting on forcing large stores to pay more rates and charging smaller businesses less to counter the decline of the high street and support struggling shopowners.

BRC Northern Ireland director Jane Bevis is expected to tell a Belfast retail conference: "It's no good announcing an intention to offer tax incentives in the shape of corporation tax breaks on the one hand and then slapping on an extra business rate levy with the other.

"It's not just the businesses targeted by such a levy that lose confidence in the intention and integrity of the Executive, it's all businesses which fear that they may be seen as similar easy targets in future. One ill-considered move can unpick all of those other positive efforts.

"What Northern Ireland businesses need is consistency, continuity, certainty."

Mr Wilson's proposals would mean 26 companies with 77 retail premises paying an extra £85,000 a year in rates per premises.

This would equate to an average rates saving for small businesses of around £750.

Independent retailers have said the scheme would be a welcome boost amid times of economic hardship. Large businesses have argued that each store has to be viable on its own and imposing extra taxes could encourage investment to go elsewhere.

The separate Department of Finance and Personnel consultation on rates closes on October 18.

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