A “radical” review of English business rates aimed at making the system fairer has been launched.
It will look at evening out the disparity between companies hit by the annual property tax and those based online.
The assessment will also examine improvements to the way changes in property values are dealt with by the 30-year-old system.
It follows Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement in last year’s autumn statement that the annual tax would be overhauled.
The review, launched by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, will report back by next year’s budget.
He said: “Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.”
New measures are due to come into force next month that will mean small business rate relief is doubled for a further year, business rates discounts for smaller retail premises are increased and the rise in the multiplier will be capped at 2%.
The English business rates system was introduced in 1990 and covers around 1.8 million non-domestic properties, such as shops, offices, warehouses, factories and guest houses, a year. The tax raised £20.5 billion in 2013/14.