It has been seven years since the last business rates assessment and the next revaluation is expected to have a significant impact on properties across England and Wales.
As a ratepayer, it is vital that you are prepared. Here’s why.
The next business rates revaluation comes into effect on 1st April 2017 and will re-assess all business properties in England and Wales based on rental value as at 1st April 2015.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is in the process of issuing statutory questionnaires to ratepayers to gather information about your business. Data such as rent cost and income figures will assist the VOA in valuing 1.8 million properties across the UK. These documents are critical to determining the levels of assessment to be applied and should be completed with care.
The draft 2017 rating list, which sets out all revised rateable values, will then be published at the end of September/early October. The list provides the basis for budgeting and decisions on appeal. An early assessment of your existing and draft figures will determine possible savings.
However, as part of the new proposed business rates system, should you wish to challenge a VOA assessment, you will now have to follow a three-stage process:
- Check – The process of challenging a rates assessment will only commence once a business has been through a process, which could take up to a year, whereby it checks the factual information the VOA holds on its property and either confirms or seeks to correct it. New fines of up to £500 will be imposed for false information supplied.
- Challenge - While the VOA will not provide any justification or upfront evidence for its own valuations, any ratepayer challenge to a property’s rateable value must be submitted with all relevant evidence. Worryingly, the Valuation Tribunal will be unable to amend the rateable value of a business unless it is “outside the bounds of reasonable judgement”. What this means is that the VOA, which sets the rateable values, has been granted a de-facto margin of error. The margin could be as much as 20%, so for example a reduction of a rateable value of say £100,000 needs to be below £80,000, for the case to be heard otherwise the assessment would not change.
- Appeal - At this stage, a business can make a formal appeal against the valuations of its properties, but the latest proposed changes outlined above have vastly reduced the likelihood of any appeal being successful. For the first time a charge up to £300 can be applied for the right to launch an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal in England.
If you still haven’t challenged your existing rates then there is still time although this is running out. Reducing your existing rates prior to a new rating list usually has added benefits in order to mitigate your liability for years to come.
Our expert rating team operates across all main property sectors so contact us now to ensure your new business rates bill is right for your business.