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There was some good news for independent retailers in Scotland from yesterday’s Scottish government’s budget.

The small firms rates relief (Small Business Bonus) has been given a reprieve. The Fed had written to John Swinney Deputy First Minister and Tom Arthur the Minister responsible for rates, urging them to protect this scheme. The rateable value will rise to £20,000 although the rate for those receiving 100 per cent relief will change from £15,000 to £12,000.

Despite rumours that business rates might rise, the basic business rate will be frozen for the coming year at 49.8p. (The intermediate property rate, at 51.1p, will be charged on properties with a rateable value of between £51,001 and £100,000. The threshold for the higher property rate will increase from £95,000 to £100,000.)

The threshold for the Higher Property Rate has been increased slightly, to £100,000 of rateable value

Any uplift in firms’ rates bills as a result of next spring’s revaluation will be phased in (i.e. a Revaluation Transitional Relief)

Income tax thresholds will not rise, which means more will be pulled into higher tax bands as their income rises. Everyone earning over £44,000 will pay higher income tax rates.

About 500,000 people in Scotland are in the higher rate bracket while a further 33,000 pay the top rate of income tax, according to the government.

The threshold for the 41p higher rate will remain frozen at £43,663 in Scotland – lower than the £50,271 elsewhere in the UK.

There will be no changes to the rate paid by lower earners, which includes many shop assistants.

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