Business rates FAQ

FAQ

What are business rates / national non-domestic rates?

Business rates (or non-domestic rates) is a local business tax payable in respect of all occupied and some unoccupied 'non-domestic' properties. Rates are paid to Walsall Council who acts as a billing authority on behalf of the government. The business rates income is then paid into a government central pool, where it is re-distributed to councils according to population size.

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Who is responsible for setting how much I pay ?

The government sets business rates centrally. They are calculated using:

  • The rateable value of your property (set by the Valuation Office Agency)
  • The rating multiplier or rate poundage (set by the government annually)

The council issues the bills and is responsible for collecting business rates within its area, on behalf of the government

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How is my bill calculated ?

To work out your bill, start by multiplying your rateable value by the rating multiplier (previously known as the rate poundage). In most cases, this calculation will result in the annual rates payable. However, further calculations to obtain the rates payable may be necessary due to, for example, transitional arrangements.

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What is a rateable value ?

Subject to certain conditions, the rateable value of a property is based on it's annual open market rental value. Since the introduction of business rates in 1990, all business properties have been revalued every 5 years. For the 2010 revaluation, for example, the rateable values were calculated using the rental values as at 1st April 2008. The rateable values of all property are shown in the local rating list, a copy of which is available for inspection at the Valuation Office and our offices. The next revaluation is planned in 2015.

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What if my business property contains living accommodation as well ?

If your business property includes living accommodation, for example if you run a public house or have a flat above a shop, you will pay business rates on the business element and council tax on the living accommodation. When the rateable value of such a property is calculated, the living accommodation is not included.

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My business property is empty; do I have to pay the full amount of business rates ?

Yes. As from 1 April 2008 unoccupied non-domestic properties are liable for the full property rates. A limited number of property types however, are exempt from empty property rates. Examples of these are:

  • The first six months that a industrial property is empty and unoccupied
  • The first three months that a non-industrial property is empty and unoccupied
  • Listed buildings that are empty and unoccupied
  • Certain empty properties where the ratepayer is subject to insolvency/administration

In addition any small property with a rateable value below £2,600.

Please note that for 2010/2011 only this limit is increased to £18,000.

Therefore any empty property with a rateable value of £18,000 will be exempt from empty rates in 2010/2011.

For 2010/2011 and beyond this limit reverts back to £2,600.

Please contact us for clarification in specific instances if you are note sure.  

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I am only using part of my premises. Is there any relief available ?

Section 44(a)* relief is a temporary relief which may be awarded to ratepayers who are using only part of their premises and the remaining area is unoccupied and completely unused. To make a claim, write to us with details of the unoccupied area. Once your claim is received, we will arrange for one of our inspectors to visit your premises to determine if you qualify for relief. If you are entitled, a letter will be issued to the valuation officer requesting the issue of a certificate detailing the rateable values for the both the occupied and unoccupied parts of your premises. We will then calculate your Section 44(a) relief and issue an amended bill. Please note that while your application is being processed business rates are due and payable on the current assessment in the rating list. (*Local Government Finance Act 1988).

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Can charitable organisations get a reduction in the amount payable ?

Charities and other similar organisations can receive relief from rates on any business property that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. Relief may be given up to 100% of the full rate bill (or of the transitional bill where transitional arrangements apply). The council may also remit all or part of any rate bill for properties occupied by bodies not established or conducted for profit. Please contact us for a claim form or further details.

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Can I pay my bill in instalments ?

Yes, everyone has the right to pay by monthly installments. However, it is important to note that installments are due on the 1st or 20th (on request) of every month and if you do not pay your installments on time the right to pay by installments will be withdrawn and proceedings will be instigated to collect the charge in full. If you lose the right to pay by installments it will be returned automatically for the next financial year. (See also Why have I received a Reminder/Final Notice/Summons?)

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Where can I pay my instalments ?

There are several ways to pay your business rates bill:

  • By Direct Debit, this is the easiest way for anyone who has a bank account, and is the council's preferred method of payment
  • By cash or cheque at the First Stop Shop in the Civic Centre
  • By standing order through your bank account. However, it is up to you to make the arrangements with your bank to ensure that your payment reaches us on time

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Why have I received a Reminder/final notice/summons ?

If you don't pay enough, pay late or miss a payment completely, we will issue a reminder. If the account is brought up to date within 7 days then the matter will not be taken any further. However, only one reminder will be issued in any one financial year. Any further default will result in the issue of a final notice with the right to pay by instalments being withdrawn. The full amount outstanding for the year will then fall due. At this stage simply bringing the account 'up to date' will not be sufficient to prevent legal action being taken against you. If this happens you will be summonsed to appear before the Magistrates’ Court for which you will incur further charges. If you still don't pay the amount due, we can instruct a bailiff to collect the amount due. If you find that you are unable to pay your instalments then contact us immediately, preferably before any reminder or final notice is issued.

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What do I do if I move to another property ?

If you move from one property to another it is up to you to inform us of the change of address. Once notified, we will apportion any charges due and issue new bills or a refund if necessary.

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I have other questions that are not answered here. Who can I talk to ?

During normal office hours you can talk to a trained member of staff by contacting us by telephone or you can visit our First Stop Shop in the Civic Centre. Please see the billing information page for full contact details.

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What are transitional arrangements ?

Transitional arrangements will have the effect of phasing in any significant changes in liability which arise from the revaluation of non-domestic property. Revaluation of non-domestic property takes place every five years, the last revaluation took place in 2010. Further information about transitional arrangements are available from the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) website.

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What do I do if my property is physically altered ?

The Valuation Officer may alter the rateable value of a property if they believe that the circumstances of the property have changed. You can contact the Valuation Officer direct or contact us to arrange for an inspection of the property. In the meantime, you should continue to pay your Business Rates based on the existing value. If the Valuation Officer determines that a change in rateable value is necessary, a new rateable value will be calculated and we will be informed of the amendment. In any case where the Valuation Officer and the ratepayer do not agree on the rateable value, the matter can be referred to a valuation tribunal. Further information about appeals can be obtained from the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) website.

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What is small business rate relief and what is the current rate of help available?

This relief is only available to ratepayers who apply to their local authority and who occupy either—

(a) one property, or

(b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,599.

The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £17,999 outside London or £25,499 in London on each day for which relief is being sought.

If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the

day of the increase.

Ratepayers who satisfy these conditions will have the bill for their sole or main property calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier that is used to calculate the liability of other businesses.

In addition, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 50% for a property with a rateable value of not more than £6,000.

If an application for relief is granted, provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will not need to re-apply for relief in each new valuation period.

Please noteFrom 1 October 2010 the scheme has been extended for a period of twelve months.

On 24 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Government will temporarily increase the level of SBRR so that eligible ratepayers will pay no rates on properties with rateable values up to £6,000, with a tapered relief of between 100% and 0% for properties with rateable values between £6,001 and £12,000. The new levels of relief will be available for 12 months from 1 October 2010 to 30 September 2011.

Please do not hesitate to contact the business rates section if any further explanation is needed.

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How can I contact the Valuation Office Agency ?

Contact details of your local Valuation Office are below:

Wolverhampton Group Valuation Officer
Crown House
Birch Street
Wolverhampton
WV1 4DS

Telephone 01902 438300
Fax 01902 438399
Email wolverhamptongroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk
Website www.voa.gov.uk

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