Scottish Government is proposing to make businesses liable for 90 per cent of the charge
Plans to slash rate relief on empty properties are expected to be passed at Holyrood today, despite strong opposition from business leaders.
At present companies can qualify for a 50 per cent discount on business rates on empty property.
The Scottish Government is proposing to make businesses liable for 90 per cent of the charge.
Business lobby group CBI Scotland has described the proposal as a "tax on distress" and estimated the changes will cost Scottish business around £18 million a year.
Opposition to the proposal, included in the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties) (Scotland) Bill, has also come from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Scottish Retail Consortium, Scottish Property Federation, the Business Centre Association, the British Council of Shopping Centres and Scottish Land & Estates.
The Scottish Tories estimate the changes will also cost the public sector at least £3 million in additional rates, saying health boards, councils, universities and police forces could have to pay more.
The Scottish Government has already amended the legislation to those firms occupying shops or offices which had been empty for at least a year can still apply for a 50 per cent business rates discount for 12 months.
Scottish Government ministers argue the new measures will help to rejuvenating high streets and encourage more business start-ups.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Our proposals on empty property relief are designed to create an incentive to bring commercial premises, regardless of ownership, back into economic use.
"Only a small proportion of the projected £18 million savings are estimated to be raised from empty public-sector properties but we will continue to monitor the impact of the reform on both the public and private sectors.
"Even after reform, empty property relief in Scotland will be significantly more generous than that in England and, unlike in England, we are protecting industrial premises.
"Scotland provides the most supportive business environment in the UK, for example through the small business bonus scheme which has either eliminated or substantially reduced business rates for over 89,000 commercial properties in Scotland.”
As well as the changes to business rates relief, the Bill will, if passed, give local authorities the power to increase the council tax on homes that have been empty for a year or more by up to 100 per cent.
The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has estimated that about 23,000 houses in the private sector are lying empty.