What are business rates?

For many business owners, the recent business rates bill that has just landed on their desk is a source of concern. Few understand how business rates bills are calculated and many misunderstand this property tax.

Many businesses appoint a qualified rating advisor to guide them through the rates maze and to get the right business rate figure. Rates bills are calculated by applying a multiplier to the rateable value of the premises but there are other factors and relief schemes that they may qualify for that can reduce the original figure.

What is rateable value?

The rateable value of a property is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The rateable value of roughly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date. That date is set by the VOA, for example, the current revaluation that came into effect on 1st April 2017 uses information taken on 1st April 2015. The ratepayer can appeal against the value shown in the list if they believe it is wrong.

Business rates appeals

In April 2017 the VOA introduced a new process for business rates appeals called check, challenge, appeal, which puts the emphasis on businesses to complete the check and challenge stages before appealing. (Read our blog about the new rate appeal system here)

Small business rate relief

A new small business rate relief scheme came into effect on 1 April 2017. Many businesses with a rateable value below £12,000 will now pay nothing at all whilst those with a rateable value between £12,001 and £15,000 will enjoy a sliding scale rate relief. Indeed, most businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000 will often benefit from having their charge calculated using the small business rate multiplier.

Is your rates bill higher than expected?

If you think that your rates bill is higher than expected then you should speak to a rating expert like Robert Seares of RDS Commercial. RDS Commercial can negotiate with both the VOA and local billing authorities on your behalf. RDS Commercial offer a service to Oxfordshire clients and, working in association with Sanderson Weatherall, can provide rating services across the UK.

Robert Seares of RDS Commercial has over 30 year’s experience in rating and is a former Chairman of the RICS Rating Diploma Holders Section as well as serving on the national committee of the Rating Surveyors’ Association. For rating advice in Oxfordshire contact Robert on 01993 705594 or robert@rdscommercial.com