Northern Ireland moots large retail tax

Grafton Street in Dublin plays host to a number of outlets owned by retail chains.

Proposal could also have massive implications for small retailers.

Just a month after Scotland blocked a controversial tax on large retailers, the introduction of a similar levy is being discussed in Northern Ireland.

The proposal was outlined in the Northern Ireland Executive Budget Statement, which highlighted the case for imposing an extra tax on large retail properties in the country.

The idea has already drawn strong criticism from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which argues that it could limit domestic retail expansion and harm employment prospects.

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BRC director-general Stephen Robertson warned that penalising successful retailers would damage Northern Ireland’s reputation as a business location and prove self-defeating.

He said: “A stable recovery depends on economic growth, which the private sector alone can provide. This contradictory proposal to impose an extra tax on large retailers threatens to introduce new financial penalties for success. Retailers already pay the highest proportion of business rates of any sector. There’s no rationale for singling out retail ahead of other sectors such as banking or business services.”

While any such tax would only be levied on large retailers, Robertson warned that it could have severe implications for smaller independent retailers.

“The Executive aims to support small businesses but by making investment less attractive for larger businesses it could damage the very shopping areas some smaller companies depend on for their own customers, and hit tourist appeal,” he said.

Robertson welcomed the news that a consultation will now take place on the issue and said the BRC would “co-operate fully” with that process.

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