Business rates revaluation

Find out where you stand

Published:  10 April, 2017

Taxes on property have been around, in one form or another, for eons. However, the present incarnation, the Uniform Business Rate, effectively a tax on the occupation of business premises and also the ownership of those that are vacant, has been with us since 1990. Every five years the valuations of property which form half of the business rates bill calculation are revisited and evaluated. The last revaluation took place in 2010 when the world, commercially at least, was on its knees. The process was due to be revisited again in 2015 but was delayed for two years and was implemented this April (2017) and many are going to be unhappy with the result.

As a result, from April 2017, those businesses occupying a single property with a rateable value under £12,000 will be exempted from their business rates bill. For those that occupy a single property with a value between £12,000 and £15,000, they will be given tapered relief. And for those that occupy properties with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, they will be charged according to the small business multiplier.

In the March budget, the Chancellor promised to cap business rate rises at £50 a month for those leaving small business rate relief (currently set at £12,000 in value but which rose to £15,000 from April). There is also to be a £300m discretionary relief fund made available to local authorities to tackle other rates-related issues in their local areas.

So, to make the process faster for all involved, the government has introduced a new system that makes it much tougher to appeal. Called 'Check, Challenge, Appeal', it effectively means that those wanting to lodge an appeal will have put in much more spadework at the start of process and will find it much harder to introduce evidence later down the line. Further, before the final appeal is lodged, applicants will have to pay a fee of £300.

The new process means that those that want to appeal must supply reasons with evidence to support their statements at the first stage of their appeal. There may be a number of reasons why a ratepayer would want to appeal, such as an incorrect valuation or a change to the property that the rateable value has not taken account of, but the only real grounds for appeal that are acceptable are those that can be found on the government's website - https://www.gov.uk/business-rate-appeals/types-of-appeals.

It's important to remember that the process has time limits which, if missed, will lead to an automatic cancellation of the appeal. With no second chance of lodging an appeal, it's key to be punctual. Rate payers need to be aware that launching an appeal could see their valuation rise as well as fall. Further, the government has said that the valuation will only be altered on appeal if it's more than 15% distant from what the correct value should be.

In terms of other options, local authorities can grant discretionary relief to struggling businesses if the rates bill threatens the viability of the firm. However, this point will need proving when making an application to a local authority for relief.

https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-business-rate-relief.

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