ON April 1, 2005 all commercial properties in the UK will have their business rates adjusted by a Revaluation, with the rateable values being determined by the Inland Revenue Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales, and by the Scottish Assessors (SA) in Scotland. Business rates liability is calculated by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the uniform business rate (UBR) for the appropriate year. The current UBR for England is 45.6p (a high tax rate of 45.6%) while different rates apply for Wales and Scotland (see The 2005 Ratings Revaluation, Logistics Manager last month).
While most companies should have already started receiving their revaluation assessment forms to fill in and return to the relevant department, few have any idea whether their total business rate liability will rise or fall next year. Why? The answer is simply that this tax is poorly understood – a surprising fact when business rates are the third highest outgoing after salaries and rent.
It is worth seeking the expertise of a qualified rating advisor who can help with the revaluation and any appeal process as well as check that the rates demanded are correct. Also, a rating consultancy code of practice and information sheet is available from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors website – www.rics/valuation/rating_code.html – while the VOA has useful revaluation information on its website, www.voa.gov.uk In Wales the relevant information can be found on the Welsh Assembly’s website – www.wales.gov.uk – while those in Scotland can consult the Scottish Executive website, www.scotland.gov.uk Firms cannot afford to take this matter lightly. After all they could be paying more than they should in business rates – a saving worth having. n