A digital sales tax is among the ideas the British Beer and Pub Assocation (BBPA) has put forward in response to the Treasury’s call for evidence on business rates.

Photograph: Unsplash/Jonas Jaconsson

In common with other industry groups, the BBPA says that a much-improved business rates system is required if pubs are to survive the covid-19 crisis and thrive afterwards.

As part of this, it has called for a digital sales tax, to ensure that companies who primarily or exclusively operate online are paying their fair share in tax,and to enable the business rates multiplier to be reduced.

Other measures it has suggested are:

  • Extending the 100% business rates holiday beyond March 2021
  • A lower business rates multiplier for pubs
  • Investment relief to boost growth
  • Extending small business rates relief
  • More regular revaluations of business rates by the Valuation Office Agency

BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “Pubs overpay on business rates by some £500 million. Given the current circumstances they find themselves in over covid-19, and the fact they are a vital community hub, that is simply not right or fair.

“Companies that operate overwhelmingly online businesses must also pay their fair share, which is why we are calling for a digital sales tax that levels the playing field with more bricks and mortar based businesses.

“A much-improved business rates system is required, too. It is on an unsustainable path for our sector right now and must change if pubs are to survive covid-19 and thrive after it.

“We are also calling on the government to give a firm indication soon that they will extend the current rates holiday and other rates relief to the sector.”

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