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The Non-Domestic Rating (Preparation for Digital Services) Bill is a two-clause government bill. The Speaker of the House of Commons has certified it as a money bill. The bill would provide HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with powers to incur expenditure to prepare digital services intended to link local authority non-domestic rates (also known as business rates) systems with HMRC’s digital tax accounts. At present, HMRC cannot incur such expenditure because its statutory functions do not include the administration of business rates.

Business rates are a property tax on non-domestic properties, calculated based on the property’s rateable value. This is a periodic valuation of a property’s rental value on the open market multiplied by a ‘multiplier’ set by the Government.  The occupier of the property pays the business rates. These are collected by billing authorities, which in most cases are local authorities.

There have been recent reforms to the business rates system. David Cameron’s Conservative Government committed in the 2016 Budget to link business rates payment systems with HMRC’s online tax accounts. This followed two business rates reviews between 2014 and 2016.

This briefing summarises the bill’s provisions, the policy background, and the bill’s House of Commons stages.

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