Many licensees face big hikes in rates bills this year as the Government has abolished gradual rates increases.
Instead, final payment is being demanded now, the year before the rating revaluation in 2010 — and one licensee has been hit with a whopping 170% increase in his bill this year.
Brian Pritchard, who owns the freehold of the Union Inn at Waterside, Saltash, Cornwall, was told by his council "there was nothing it could do as it was a Government instruction to remove all transitional relief".
Cornwall County Council said that, since 1990, rating increases were phased in for businesses that faced big hikes when rates were revalued every five years.
However this year, for the first time, the Government ordered full liability to be paid at the end of the five-year period — 2009.
Pritchard said: "We live on the edge, trying desperately to protect the value of my pub and my eventual retirement against the successive legislation and Government interference that is driving small rural pubs to negative equity and closure. I won't be able to afford to pay it."
Meanwhile, Peter Wilson, host of the Hare & Hounds in Worthing, West Sussex, has written to Alistair Darling to complain about a further £8,855.84 he has been asked for on his business rates bill.
He said: "When the transitional relief ceases on 1 April, we'll be haemorrhaging money at an alarming rate thanks to your policies."
Fleurets rating expert Michael Yass said: "I've had a number of people aghast at the increase from one year to the next. The impact can be massive, particularly since cash flow is so finely tuned at the moment."
He advised those in receipt of such bills to consider whether there were grounds to challenge the rateable values.