Business Rates can be confusing for ratepayers but here at SJ Associates we try to keep things as simple as possible and have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive.

SJ Associates can also advise on other matters so if you have any questions or queries not listed below, please contact us.

What are business rates?

Business rates or non-domestic rates, is a tax on the occupation of a non-domestic property. Properties are assessed in a rating list which is given a rateable value based upon the annual rent from a certain date. This is determined based on details for similar properties within the area. Each ratepayer may lodge only one compiled list appeal each five year period (appeal against rateable value set at the start of the rating period) so it is important you are confident in the company you instruct.

How long will the appeal process take?

On average, the appeal process can take around  6-12 months to be completed but can often take much longer than this. Ultimately, the length in time is dictated by HMRC and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

What is a ‘Valuation Tribunal’?

The Valuation Tribunal are an independent government body and they aim to ensure that any appeals unable to be settled between an individual or company and the VOA, are settled within their hearing. If we are unable to reach settlement with the VOA the case will be referred to the VT and a Hearing Date will be issued for us to attend. We will attend along with the caseworker at the VOA and both put forward our case to be reviewed by the VT. The VT will then reach a decision based upon the information being provided by both parties.

What is a Material Change in Circumstance (MCC) appeal?

An MCC appeal can be lodged for a number of different reasons. MCC’s can be lodged for factors such as; road works, increase in competition within the area, changes to existing access or layout arrangements or any other material changes you feel are affecting you as a business or your trade. It is imperative that an MCC appeal is lodged without delay as the start date of the event is crucial to the appeal.

Why do my rates increase every April?

At the start of each financial year (1st April), the multiplier charged on your rateable value is reviewed. This change is to reflect the overall rate of inflation and does not always result in an increase. Depending on the current climate, the revised multiplier may increase, decrease, or remain the same. This happens to each and every business liable to pay rates, throughout the whole of England and Wales.

Do I continue to pay my rates while appealing?

We advise every business to continue paying their business rates at all times. Whether an appeal is pending or not, this must remain to be paid as requested by your local council. As a ratepayer, if you believe you are unable to make a payment, we would advise you to contact your local council who may be able to assist you in this matter. Although an appeal may be pending, it is important to continue to make the payments as any reduction or overpayments, will be backdated to 1st April 2015 or the date for occupation if later..

Why should I contest my Business Rates?

The majority of Rateable Values set by the VOA are estimated. This is purely and simply due to the lack of resources and manpower at the VOA on a whole. They therefore estimate a number of property assessments based on similar properties in the area – this is not always correct as we have found with the majority of properties within the current rating list. Furthermore, Business Rates should be contested by Ratepayers for their own piece of mind.

What do I do if I receive a Request for Information?

The majority of rated properties will receive a Request for Information during their occupation of a business premises. This form is a questionnaire, issued directly by the Ratings Office and must be completed and returned to them within 56 days. Failure to return this form may result in a fine of £100, which the ratepayer is liable to pay. These forms are usually completed by the ratepayer but as an acting agent, SJ Associates may assist with these forms should we be provided the necessary details to complete. For further assistance or advice please contact our office, details of which can be found on our Contact Us page.

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