Apart from properties that are exempt from Business Rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value which is normally set by the valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an agency of Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs (HMRC). The VOA are responsible for maintaining a full list of all rateable values.
The rateable value of your property will be shown on the front of your business rates bill. The rateable value broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on the valuation date. For the valuation that came into effect on 1 April 2010, this date was set as 1 April 2008.
Can I appeal if I think my rateable value is wrong?
The valuation officer has to maintain the list and may alter the value if he or she believes that the circumstances of the property have changed.
The ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) can also appeal against the value shown in the list if they believe it to be wrong.
Further information on the grounds for making an appeal, and on how to make one, can be found on the Valuation Office Agency website or from your local valuation office.
The effect of successful appeals against values shown in the rating list that came into force on 1 April 2010 will normally be backdated to the beginning of the financial year in which they are made, although there are exceptions to this.
Will I need someone to act for me?
As a ratepayer, you do not have to be represented in discussions about your rateable value or your rates bill.
Appeals against rateable values can be made free of charge. However, if you do wish to be represented you should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.
Before you employ a rating adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract.
How are my rates calculated?
Your business rates bill is calculated by multiplying the rateable value of your property by a uniform business rate (UBR) multiplier.
Any relief or other adjustment to which you are entitled is then applied.
The rateable value and the UBR multiplier are both calculated and maintained by the government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and by central government, not by the council.
A property's rateable value is an assessment of the annual rent the property would demand if it was available to let on the open market at a fixed valuation date.
The latest rating lists came into effect on 1 April 2010 and are based on a valuation date of 1 April 2008.
You can check your property's rateable value on the VOA's business rates webpages.
When the Government postponed the 2015 business rates revaluation to 2017, it extended the period over which bills would be based on rateable values in the 2010 rating list. This also extended the period over which alterations to rateable values could be backdated. As a result, under the current arrangements, by March 2018, a business could potentially have received a business rates bill backdated for up to 8 years and ratepayers could have had 7 years in which to challenge the rateable value.
This is an excessively long period of uncertainty for both businesses and local government. Therefore, the Government decided to address this. The Government has now changed the rules so that alterations to rateable values can only be backdated to the period between 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2015 for Valuation Office Agency alterations made before 1 April 2016 and ratepayers' appeals made before 1 April 2015. Regulations implementing this measure were laid on 3 March.
Details can be found at the following website:
Unoccupied property rating
Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. In most cases the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the unoccupied property rate. Full details on exemptions can be obtained from the Council. If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill.
The Government introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds. Unoccupied new builds will be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months (up to state aid limits) where the property comes on to the list between 1st October 2013 and 30th September 2016. The 18 month period includes the initial 3 or 6 month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.
Partly occupied property relief
A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the Council has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained by calling the revenues section on 01277 312500.