Empty units cost owners £1.1bn in tax

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COMMERCIAL property owners across the UK paid £1.1 billion on rates levied on empty properties last year, an annual rise of 19 per cent a new study found.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said Scottish landlords paid £39.9m on their empty properties in 2011-12, ahead of a Scottish Government plan to raise a further £36m from a cut in rates relief that came into effect 1 April.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the lobby group, said the tax was “extremely unfair” and hit owners with extra bills.

He said: “There are elderly people who invested in a small commercial or industrial unit in the reasonable expectation the rent would top up their pension. This new tax is ruining them.

“The rest of us lose out as the mere threat of having to pay rates on empty properties is discouraging people from putting money into new developments or refurbishing existing properties, which is undermining the prospects for economic growth.”