Burial mound owner 'worried' over long barrow's £13,000 tax bill

All Cannings long barrow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tim Daw said the structure was a place of religious worship and should be exempt from business rates

The owner of a burial mound has received a tax bill of almost £13,000, despite him claiming it should be tax exempt as a place of worship.

Tim Daw opened the modern long barrow, said to be the first "Neolithic" burial mound to be built in the UK for 5,500 years, in Wiltshire in 2014.

The council invoiced him "out of the blue" after a valuation assessment.

He said it was a "real worry" to have no income and "a potential large bill each year which could go on forever".

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which assessed the site, said it could not comment on individual cases.

The burial chamber, which can hold up to 1,000 urns containing human ashes, was opened at All Cannings near Devizes in 2014.

Image caption The burial mound was opened in 2014

Mr Daw said he corresponded with the VOA, which sets rateable values, last year and "thought he had finally shown them it is exempt".

"It is a public place of religious worship... the same as a church, which has full exemption from business rates," he said.

Image caption The long barrow has room for about 1,000 urns of human ashes

He said he had now been told the rateable value was £9,000, and had received an invoice from the council for £12,933, "backdated for a couple of years and for a year going forward".

The council said it was "down to the VOA" who was eligible to pay business rates, and "we send the correspondence".

'Two dozen candles'

Mr Daw said the barrow was operated by a non-profit-making Community Interest Company (CIC).

"We get about £1,000 each year coming in, and we spend about £1,000.

"It really is break even, and that's without charging anything for my labour.

Image caption Mr Daw said he wanted to assure people who had bought niches in the barrow it would remain in use

"All the company has is £96.70 in the bank and two dozen candles."

The long barrow contains 340 niches, where urns can be stored.

Mr Daw said the only income he had ever had from the barrow was when these niches were sold, for £1,000 each, which covered the cost of it being built.

"Because they've all been sold we can't add any more. Once it's full, it's full."

He said he had asked the VOA for an explanation of the "totally bizarre" valuation, but had not had a reply.

As of 12:30 BST on 14 June Mr Daw said the invoice had been updated to include small business relief so he now had nothing to pay, but he added the VOA valuation was "still wrong".

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