The unaccountability of tax devolution: a case study of business rates

Dominic De Cogan, Penelope Tuck

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This article examines the accountability arguments for business rates devolution and shows them to be weak. They are undermined by the economic incoherence of the tax, the complexity of devolved powers and a lack of transparency around
the use of powers. These problems resonate with a widely held belief that business rates ought to be repealed and replaced with a more carefully designed tax, especially in response to the pressures placed on the system by COVID-19. We are not hostile to these ideas but doubt the likelihood of rapid implementation, and therefore focus on the existing system, paying special regard to the COVID reliefs of 2020 and 2021. We suggest incremental improvements that could reinforce the accountability justifications
for devolution; these might be useful even in the event that radical reforms are enacted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-54
JournalPublic Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Not yet published as of 13/12/2021.


  • Accountability
  • Coronavirus
  • Devolution
  • Non-domestic rates
  • Reliefs
  • Tax administration
  • Tax policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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