New system to challenge business rates outlined

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A system to allow businesses to check and appeal business rates bills has been announced. The aim is to ensure that disputes are settled more promptly.

Currently, over 955,000 appeals have been submitted against rating valuations but less than 2% of business rates appeals proceed to a tribunal hearing.

The new process is part of the government’s target of self-sufficiency for councils and the retention of 100% of local taxes by 2020.

Announcing the plan on 6 July 2016 the then secretary of state for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, said:

“The vast majority of disputes will now be settled long before lengthy litigation and will mean businesses and councils can get on with planning budgets, confident they are getting a fair deal.”

Appealing business rates

In England and Wales business rates are charged on non-domestic properties such as offices and warehouses. Bills are paid in February or March for the following tax year.

Currently, businesses can appeal against the rateable value of their business through the Valuation Office Agency.

Under the new system, firms can appeal through 3 stages:

  • check – all information must be up to date and accurate
  • challenge – providing an alternative valuation and supporting evidence
  • appeal – the opportunity to appeal to an independent valuation tribunal.

A new £300 fee will be charged to lodge an appeal (which is refunded if the appeal is successful). Penalties of up to £500 will be issued for those sending false information.