Business Rates Mitigation – “Check, Challenge, Appeal”

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The Government has introduced major reforms to the business rates system for the 2017 Rating Revaluation, which extends over a 5 year period.

The rating system has been subject to extensive criticism from businesses, trade and industry bodies, as well as the surveying profession.

The most significant changes to the appeals system for ratepayers in England are:

  1. A new rental valuation date of 1 April 2015 (compared to 1 April 2008 for the 2010 Rating Revaluation).
  2. The imposition of a complex ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ process.
  3. Far less transparency – Valuation Officers will no longer be obliged to provide ratepayers (or their agents) with the rental evidence used to assess a property.
  4. A fee of up to £300 to progress action to the Appeal/Valuation Tribunal stage.
  5. Penalties of up to £500 may also be imposed for the provision of false information made ‘carelessly, recklessly or knowingly’.
  6. A new registration system to progress action for ratepayers and professional advisors.

Check – The initial stage will provide an opportunity to establish and review the facts upon which a rating assessment is based. If there are rating valuation issues that cannot be agreed on with the Valuation Officer, the case can progress to the Challenge stage. (Extends for up to 12 months)

Challenge – The challenge must contain details of the reasons/grounds, a proposed alternative Rateable Value, as well as evidence or analysis supporting this assessment. If an agreement cannot be reached then further action is required to escalate the case to the next formal stage. (Extends for up to 18 months)

Appeal – There will be a fee introduced (up to maximum £300) to escalate a Challenge outcome to an Appeal. This process will involve taking the case to a Valuation Tribunal; importantly, any additional evidence beyond that used as part of the Challenge stage may be deemed inadmissible.

The major difference with the existing appeal process is that a proposal will need to set out the substantive reasons at the Challenge stage, along with an alternative valuation backed by detailed supporting evidence.