Owner of ancient burial ground charged thousands in business rates argues he should be exempt

A man who opened the first ‘Neolithic’ burial mound to be built in the UK for some 5,500 years has been asked to pay more than £13,000 in business rates.

Tim Daw, who built the cavern-like structure in Wiltshire in 2014, is arguing that the building should be tax exempt as it is a “place of worship”, much like church graveyards and other burial grounds.

Certain buildings are exempt from business rates, known as the ‘exempted buildings and empty buildings relief’. This includes agricultural land and buildings, buildings used for training or for the welfare of disabled people, and buildings registered for public religious worship of church halls.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), however, said Mr Daw must pay between £4,500 and £5,000 a year in business rates for the mound, which can hold up to 1,000 urns containing human ashes. The council argues that the long barrow tomb is not a ‘place of worship’, and is instead classed as a ‘commercial storage facility’ and therefore attracts business rates.

Speaking to the BBC this month, Mr Daw said: “It is a public place of religious worship… the same as a church, which has full exemption from business rates.”

He said the tomb has been given a rateable value of £9,000, and has received an invoice from the council for £12,933, “backdated for a couple of years and for a year going forward”.

He added that the burial mound is operated by a non-profit-making Community Interest Company (CIC), a type of social business entity, and he has never made a penny from the use of the site.

Mr Daw said he has now asked the VOA for a full explanation and is awaiting a response.

The VOA said it does not comment on individual cases.