Landowners could be hit by larger business rate bills if they hold regular car boot sales
Gordon Brown was accused last night of a ‘tax blitz’ on Britain’s car boot sales in a desperate attempt to raise more revenue.
Valuation officials admitted that those who run the popular events could face tax rises in a revamp of property levies to come in next April.
They confirmed that landowners, including farmers, could be hit with bigger business rates bills if they hold regular sales.
The move has brought fears that the tax hikes will be passed on to customers in the form of higher admission fees and more expensive goods.
Last night, the Tories claimed bargain hunters would be the victims of ‘yet another assault by Gordon Brown’s tax inspectors’.
The number of car boot sales has rocketed in the past year as people try to raise extra cash in the recession.
One website which advertises the events reported a 78 per cent rise in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2008.
Local Government Minister Barbara Follett confirmed that under a five-yearly review of business rates, the Valuation Office Agency would take into account whether a property was being used for boot fairs.
She said: ‘Where a property is used as a car boot sale site its rateable value for the 2010 revaluation should reflect any rental enhancement attributable to that use.’
Her officials said this had always been the case when assessing rates and claimed most business would see their bills reduce next year.
But Tory Shadow Secretary for Local Government Caroline Spelman said that since the number of sales had soared, many more people would be affected, adding: ‘In the depths of a recession, car boot sales are more important than ever. They also help the environment by reducing the amount of unwanted items thrown into landfill.’
A spokesman for Ms Follett said last night: ‘The five-yearly revaluations make sure each business pays its fair contribution and no more.’
VOA sources said charity events would be unaffected.