There is just over a week to go until the new rating list is published on 1st April 2017. However, businesses can still challenge their existing business rates assessment up until midnight on 31st March, as Adam Rock, head of rating, explains.
If you’re a company that pays business rates, you should already be aware that as of 1st April 2017, the amount of tax you pay on the commercial property you occupy will either be going up or down.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) published the draft 2017 rating list on the 30th September 2016, after which businesses should’ve received notification of their revised rateable value and estimated business rates liability.
The 2017 rating list is based on property values in 2015. Given the last revaluation was carried out in 2010 (based on property values in 2008), a large number of businesses will see their rates bill increase in line with the upturn in the economy and subsequent rise in property values.
However, if businesses haven’t already done so, there is still time to challenge assessments based on the existing rating list. Businesses can check their rateable value online on the VOA website. Should any errors or inaccuracies be identified, professional advice from a business rates expert should be sought.
From the 1st April, ratepayers challenging their business rates assessment based on the 2017 rating list will be faced with a new ‘check, challenge, appeal’ process.
The first stage of the new system is for the ratepayer to ‘check’ the relevant facts upon which the VOA has based its revaluation.
The second stage allows the ratepayer to ‘challenge’ their ratings list entry. The challenge must be submitted within four months of completion of the check stage.
To make a challenge, evidence must be provided on the grounds for the challenge, substantive reasons for the challenge, and an alternative valuation.
If an agreement cannot be reached between the ratepayer and the VOA, the ratepayer can proceed to the ‘appeal’ stage of the process.
At this stage, the ratepayer will appeal to the Valuation Tribunal for England, which will consider the evidence that was put before the VOA and assess whether it had correctly determined the challenge.
It is important to note that only one ‘check, challenge. appeal’ is permitted for each ground of challenge. Fines can also be imposed for providing inaccurate information.
Again, if in doubt, seek professional advice.