Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin proposes Stormont tax on derelict land

Stormont
Image caption The Department of Finance has been carrying out a review of business rates and the exemptions offered to different sectors

Sinn Féin has suggested that Stormont could levy a tax on derelict land in their response to a review of business rates.

Rates are the property taxes paid by households and businesses in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Finance has been carrying out a review of business rates and the exemptions offered to different sectors.

The review considers whether a derelict land tax should be introduced.

Sinn Féin's submission said that the current exclusion of derelict land from rates "encourages land banking and creates a disincentive to development".

It said a comprehensive land value tax would resolve that issue, but short of that a derelict land tax could be introduced.

It added that the method of valuation is key to the effectiveness of the tax and said the Department of Finance should bring forward proposals.

In general terms, the party said there should be more selective use of reliefs and exemptions, "particularly those directed towards the unproductive use of assets".

The executive previously considered a derelict land tax almost 10 years ago.

The policy was not taken forward following the crash in the property market in 2008

Meanwhile, in its response to the consultation, Belfast City Council said charity shops located in the "high street" should pay some rates.

In Northern Ireland charity shops pay no rates compared to an 80% exemption in other parts of the UK.

The review asks whether all charity shops should pay some rates.

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