Growers' business rates threat "worrying" HTA

A threat by HMRC to collect business rates for young plant growers' covered facilities has concerned the HTA.

The new business rates follow an unsuccessful appeal by a mushroom grower against a charge.

From 1 April 2017, a change in approach by the Valuations Office Agency (VOA) to rating horticultural businesses which grow their crops mainly in buildings or glasshouses, but do not bring these crops on to their final maturity is on its way.

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "This is potentially very worrying for growers because the VOA's draconian interpretations and definitions could bring them into paying business rates where they haven't had to before."

"We would urge concerned growers to follow the NFU advice and contact their helplines.

At an HTA ornamentals committee last week, Curtis-Machin said rates were "discussed at length, and general feeling was that liner, plug and young plant producers are most at risk of new rates category changes. The definitions are out of date but it's a complex business to change legislation. Along with the NFU, HTA will offer help to any individual members where possible, because it looks as if local interpretation will be key."

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