Danny McCance 27 Aug 2019 03:56pm

FSB slams “aircon tax” burden on small business

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hit out at an “aircon tax” and the added burden it is having as small businesses attempt to keep cool in the summer

Under current legislation air conditioning units are considered as business assets falling under plant and machinery. As such they will have an effect on valuation by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The VOA provides valuations on which the business rates are based, providing advice property advice to the government to support taxation.

However as temperatures increase this has drawn the ire of the FSB. Its national chairman Mike Cherry said it was “absurd that a business owner gets pummelled with a huge tax bill for investing in their business and trying to keep workers cool and business productive”.

He has called for the government to help “the nation’s workers stay cool in future heatwaves by removing this aircon tax”.

Cherry said that this was an example “of how unfair and regressive the system is, hitting firms before they’ve made their first penny in turnover, let alone profit.”

He noted that the new prime minister Boris Johnson has made a pledge to save the high street and said that it is time that action towards this is taken.

Johnson, Cherry said, could show his support for small firms “already struggling with rising costs in this time of huge uncertainty” through an emergency budget.

"We follow rating law when valuing a property to consider what elements of a property should be included" A VOA spokesperson said.

"If a ratepayer thinks the details we hold about their property are incorrect, they can see how their valuation has been calculated and update their facts, if needed, by registering with our check and challenge service," they added.

In March, the FSB called on then chancellor Philip Hammond to help the small business community, which it said was struggling to cope under the burden business rates hikes, among other things.

Small businesses have previously said that they want government to simplify the controversial tax, with two-thirds (71%) stating they did not believe the government was doing enough to support business rate tax relief.

Last month, former Treasury minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe told the House of Lords that the tax system is “creaking under the weight of its own complexity”, suggesting that businesses rates should be offset through a digital services tax.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for further comment.