Business rates 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.

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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.

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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 ?

The rateable value is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency, which is an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs.

A property's rateable value is an assessment of the annual rent the property would let at  if it was available on the open market at a fixed valuation date.

  • Until 31 March 2017, the rateable values will be based on a valuation date of 1 April 2008.
  • From 1 April 2017, the rateable values will be based on the valuation date of 1 April 2015.

You can check your property details are correct and the rateable value here:

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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. 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 most cases, empty properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs.

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 £2,900.

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?

Ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £50,999 (and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates) will have their bills calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.

In addition, generally, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill.

Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers 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 £2,899.

The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £19,999 outside London or £27,999 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.

The Government has introduced additional support to small businesses. For those businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief, the Government has confirmed that they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months.

An application for Small Business Rate Relief is not required. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria and has not received the relief they should contact their local authority. 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 automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.

Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the local authority by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by the local authority). The changes which should be notified are—

(a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and

(b) an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief.

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 ?

Valuation enquiriesshould be referred to the Valuation Office Agency. Contact details for the Valuation Office Agency can be found at

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What is a revaluation?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) regularly reassess and update the rateable values of all business properties usually every five years. This is called a Revaluation. This is done to maintain fairness in the system by redistributing the total amount payable in business rates, reflecting changes in the property market. Revaluation does not raise extra revenue overall.

You can find out more information on rateable values, business rates and the 2017 revaluation, at You can also estimate your business rates bill, including any small business rates relief the local council may apply.

Check, Challenge and Appeal

For your information, the Government has introduced an improved business rates appeals system effective from 1st April 2017.

Further information about the new Check Challenge Appeal process will be available from the 1st April 2017 by visiting the VOA’s website.

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