Business partners Lindsay Foreman and Dominic Everitt are worried they may have to stop trading after receiving an unexpected tax bill.
When the pair signed a lease for a shop unit in Bury St Edmunds last October they knew the rateable value of their premises would be significantly reduced when the government’s full revaluation of business properties came into effect on April 1.
It did drop – from £52,500 to £29,250 – and they were expecting to pay a lot less in business rates because of it, but they were shocked to find a Transitional Premium of almost £10,000 added to their bill when it arrived last week.
This means they will have to pay £23,326 for 2017-18, a big difference from the £13,631 they had been expecting to pay, although £2,765 less than they would have had to before the revaluation.
They only opened The Furniture Market in Brentgovel Street at the end of January and their unexpected rates bill has left them questioning its future.
They share their overheads with other businesses who rent space for furniture, antiques and collectibles but do not feel they can request more money from them.
Miss Foreman said: “We’re wondering whether we can cover this additional cost because obviously we don’t want to raise rent for the stall holders who have just started selling with us.”
“Business has been going really well,” she added. “People love it, we’re selling well, but now we’ve got these rates come in and crush what we expected to make over the first couple of years.
“I thought the whole point of this government policy was to give a break to small businesses and we’re a small business – there are only two of us.”
Mr Everitt said: “Our plan is to establish a business, that’s why we signed a 10 year lease. We didn’t expect to be in our infancy and experiencing the problems we now are.”
The government has said its revaluation will not raise any more or less tax and its transitional arrangements will phase in changes for properties facing significant increases or reductions in rates, with those bills being capped at set percentages each year.
Miss Foreman said: “It makes you feel really aggrieved that they (the government) agree it’s been overcharging for seven years, but it (the money) is being used to fund the relief of those (businesses) who are going up. I just can’t see how it’s fair.”