THE County Land and Business Association (CLA) is warning of a new tax time bomb waiting to explode in rural Yorkshire.
The CLA says that hundreds of farmers and landowners, who have diversified into commercial lets will be hit by forthcoming changes to empty property rates.
Currently properties with a rateable value below £18,000 do not have to pay the empty rates levy, which taxes buildings empty for more than three months, after exemptions were introduced in 2008.
From April this year, when the exemption period ends, members with empty commercial property valued at more than £2,600 will be liable to pay the full business rate bill.
CLA Yorkshire regional director Dorothy Fairburn fears this will be damaging to the rural economy.
“Local government statistics show that there are hundreds of empty non-domestic properties across rural Yorkshire.
“In the current economic climate, many of our members have lost tenants from their office and workshop conversions and are now looking at empty property tax bills in excess of £20,000 a year, which is totally unacceptable.
“This is an outrageous hidden tax from the Government. Applying Non-Domestic Rates to empty property is a disincentive to investment for providing and improving rural business premises to let. It is more likely to encourage demolition and other actions to make buildings unusable to avoid this unjustifiable tax.”