Blackpool firms are being warned that a deadline is looming over business rates appeals which could see them lose out on up to £16m.
Rates specialist CVS says that the Government has made a change to the system which could limit appeals from the end of this month.
The business rates system is bureaucratic, complicated and, in many respects, unfair.
It says the clock is ticking on a cut-off point which could cost UK businesses over £1.72bn, with 81 per cent of properties in Blackpool yet to appeal before the deadline of March 31.
It says the change in the rules was tucked away on page 78 of the Autumn Statement and means the maximum refund following a successful appeal will only be two years’ worth of potential savings, rather than the current seven.
Since the Chancellor introduced new regulations for business rates appeals in the 2014 Autumn Statement, firms will be unable to claim refunds to which they had previously been entitled if they do not submit appeals by 31 March 2015.
Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of CVS, said approximately 81 per cent of properties across Blackpool have yet to appeal their business rates meaning that £16m of refunds which could be returned to businesses is currently lying unclaimed. Appealing after March 31 means that overpayments of £10m will stay with Revenue and Customs, as businesses will only be entitled to savings on the final two years of the current Rating List.
He said: “The vast majority of businesses are well aware that they can claim refunds on overpaid business rates because of the discrepancy between previous property valuations and actual business rates bills.
“However, crucially there is now only one month left for businesses in Blackpool to submit appeals where no action has been taken and, because of the Chancellor’s new regulations, where £10m in refunds is at risk of being lost.
“The business rates system is bureaucratic, complicated and, in many respects, unfair.
“This move by the Chancellor slams the door on businesses in Blackpool where bills could have been potentially incorrectly calculated and businesses already struggling to manage overheads might have substantially overpaid.
“We are saying to these businesses, ‘wake up, take action, and don’t miss out’. With pressure on businesses so great at the moment, the last thing they need is a tax grab from Government which this blatantly is.”