The Minister has today published a Consultation Document on a number of proposed changes to the rating system in Northern Ireland.

The major proposal is to introduce a 20% levy on large retail properties with a Net Annual Value over £500,000 for a period of 3 years from 1 April 2012.

Our analysis of this proposal (see Briefing Notes section to the left) sets-out the reasons why we believe this is the wrong tax at the wrong time and we will be making strong representations to the Minister.

On the positive side, the Consultation Paper includes a sensible proposal to allow the use of shop frontages for non-commercial purposes without landlords losing the right to claim 50% empty rates relief and this will help to alleviate the blight of blank frontages in our High Streets.

The consultation period runs until  Tuesday 18 October 2011.