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Business rates FAQ

Business Rates FAQ

  1. Why do I have to pay Non-Domestic (or Business) rates?
  2. Why do I have to pay for the collection of my trade refuse?
  3. How are my rates calculated?
  4. What is the Multiplier or Rate Poundage?
  5. What is the Rateable Value of my property?
  6. Who determines the Rateable Value?
  7. What is the Non-Domestic Rating List?
  8. Can I see this Non-Domestic Rating List, and if so, where?
  9. What if I do not agree that the Rateable Value of my property is correct?
  10. I have appealed against the Rateable Value of my property, do I still have to pay?
  11. Why is my next-door neighbour's Business Rates less than mine?
  12. My rent is inclusive of Business Rates, so why do I get the bill?
  13. My bill shows Transitional Relief, what is this?
  14. My bill shows Transitional Premium, what is this?
  15. My property is empty / will soon be empty, do / will I have to pay anything?
  16. I only occupy part of my property, do I still have to pay rates on it all?
  17. What happens if I am no longer responsible for the property?
  18. What happens if I don't pay my account?

1. Why do I have to pay Non-Domestic (or Business) rates?

Business Rates are a national tax which is a contribution made by businesses towards the cost of services provided by Swale Borough Council, Kent County Council, Kent Police Authority and the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority. All the money collected is passed on to the Government, who then redistribute the money to Local Government on the basis of the population of the area.

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2. Why do I have to pay for the collection of my trade refuse?

Whilst Domestic waste is collected within costs covered under the domestic rate, this is not the case with shops, factories and other businesses under the non-domestic rating system. Under Section 34 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 all businesses have a Duty of Care to dispose of their waste through authorised trade waste collection services and must be able to prove this. Those committing an offence face an unlimited fine and possible imprisonment.

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3. How are my rates calculated?

A rate liability is calculated by multiplying the Non-Domestic Rating Multiplier (formerly known as a rate in the pound or the Rate Poundage) by the Rateable Value of a property.

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4. What is the Multiplier or Rate Poundage?

This is a value set by central government. For the year commencing 1 April 2017 there are two multipliers; the standard non-domestic rating multiplier and the small business non-domestic rating multiplier. The former is higher to pay for the small business rate relief. The Government sets the multipliers for each financial year for the whole of England. The Government normally changes both multipliers every year in line with inflation. By law, the multipliers cannot go up by more than the rate of inflation apart from some minor adjustments to counteract losses from appeals and in relation to the standard multiplier, to pay for the small business rate relief. In the year of a revaluation it is set at a level which will keep the total amount raised in rates after the revaluation the same as before, plus inflation for that year. For 2017/18 the multiplier is 47.9 pence and the small business rate multiplier is 46.6 pence.

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5. What is the Rateable Value of my property?

This is the value based upon the annual rent that could be obtained from your property on a certain date. For the current Rating List that was effective from the 1 April 2017, the rental evidence used was the value as at the 1 April 2015. These values are revised every 5 years.

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6. Who determines the Rateable Value?

The Valuation Officer, Palting House, Trinity Road, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2TP determines what the value of property is for Rating purposes. He is completely independent from Swale Borough Council and can be contacted on 03000 501501. It is his responsibility to ensure that the Non-Domestic Rating List is kept accurate and up to date. The Valuation Office has a web site: Valuation Office.

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7. What is the Non-Domestic Rating List?

Every Council has a list that shows that the value of all Non-Domestic properties in its area - the Non-domestic Rating List. It shows all properties in the area, their rateable values, and their descriptions. The properties are listed in alphabetical street order within postal areas and every property has its own reference number. If any amendments to an assessment are made, a suitable notation is made of what the amendment was and where details can be found.

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8. Can I see this Non-Domestic Rating List, and if so, where?

A Rating List is a public document and can be seen at the Valuation Officer's website.

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9. What if I do not agree that the Rateable Value of my property is correct?

Any person who does not agree with the Rateable Value shown in the Rating List may appeal against the value. All appeals must be made to the Valuation Officer, details above, and NOT to Swale Borough Council. An appeal must be in writing and state the reasons why the value is incorrect. However, Rateable Values can go up as well as down and you will need to take this into account when deciding whether or not to appeal against the value.

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10. I have appealed against the Rateable Value of my property, do I still have to pay?

Yes, rates are payable on the basis of the rateable value currently appearing in the list and you remain liable to pay the account sent to you until such time as the rateable value in the list is amended. If the value is reduced, any over payment will be refunded, together with any interest that might be due in certain instances.

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11. Why is my next-door neighbour's Business Rates less than mine? 

Every property has a rateable value that reflects the individual property's annual rent. Any query should be directed to The Valuation Officer.

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12. My rent is inclusive of Business Rates, so why do I get the bill?

Liability to pay Business Rates rests with the person entitled to beneficial Occupation (i.e. the occupier) of a property, irrespective of any third party agreement. You should discuss this with your landlord, as agreements between Landlords and their Tenants are a matter between themselves and are not binding on a Local (or Billing) Authority in the event of any dispute between those parties. Should a tenant pay a rent that includes Rates, but the landlord does not pass those payments to the Council, the Tenant will still be liable to pay and may then have to take action to recover the monies paid to the landlord against the landlord.

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13. My bill shows Transitional Relief, what is this?

Because the market for rented property can change greatly between valuations, this could mean large increases for some properties or large decrease for others, which could push individual rate bills very sharply up or down. The government therefore decided to phase in the changes gradually to give businesses time to adjust. The rules ensure that individual rate bills cannot go up or down in any year because of the revaluations by more than fixed percentage amounts, after allowing for inflation. If your rate bill after revaluation increases by more than these fixed percentages, you will qualify for Transitional Relief, which is a reduction in the amount calculated, to limit the increase in your bill. Details of the calculation will always be shown on your bill.

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14. My bill shows Transitional Premium, what is this?

Because the market for rented property can change greatly between valuations, this could mean large increases for some properties or large decreases for others, which could push individual rate bills very sharply up or down. The government therefore decided to phase in the changes gradually to give businesses time to adjust. The rules ensure that individual rate bills cannot go up or down in any year because of the revaluations by more than fixed percentage amounts, after allowing for inflation. If your rate bill after revaluation decreases by more than these fixed percentages, you will qualify for Transitional Premium, which is an increase in the amount calculated, to limit the reduction in your bill. Details of the calculation will always be shown on your bill.

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15. My property is empty / will soon be empty, do / will I have to pay anything?

Unoccupied non-domestic properties are liable for empty property rates. Rates are charged at 100% of the annual bill and liability begins 3 months after a property becomes empty. Empty usually means completely cleared of all furniture and effects. However, specific types of properties, i.e. industrial, warehouses, and factories are exempt from empty property rates for an initial six-month period. Empty properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900 are exempt from rates. Specific advice concerning your property can be obtained from the Rating Section at Swale Borough Council. See your bill for details.

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16. I only occupy part of my property, do I still have to pay rates on it all?

Technically yes, because occupation of part of the property constitutes occupation of the whole, but there are options.

  1. If the part of the property that is occupied can be occupied separately from the remainder of the building, e.g. it has or is capable of having its own access points, then the Valuation Officer might be able to split the existing rating assessment to allow for the occupied and unoccupied parts. If it cannot, then the splitting of the assessment cannot be made and this option is not available.
  2. If it appears to the Billing Authority (i.e. Swale Borough Council) that the part of the property that is empty will remain so for a short time only, then the Authority may request a certificate under Section 44A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. This is completely at the Authority's discretion. There is no definition of what constitutes a short time and all the factors concerning the type of business and property would be considered.
    Furthermore, if a certificate is requested, then in view of the "short term" requirement, it would only run for a limited period, e.g. to the end of the year in which the request was made.

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17. What happens if I am no longer responsible for the property?

If your liability for the property changes, you should notify the Business Rates team in writing, by letter, fax or e-mail (see your bill for details). Please advise us of:

  1. the date you vacated the premises
  2. the date the premises were sold or the lease expired
  3. your forwarding details for correspondence, and
  4. details of the new owner or leaseholder

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18. What happens if I don't pay my account?

If you have problems paying your Business Rates, please let us know immediately. We will look into your case and where possible, offer you another payment arrangement. Remember that paying by direct debit ensures that your payments are made on time each month.

The recovery timetable where a person either does not pay or fails to agree a revised payment schedule with us is as follows. If you don't bring your instalments up to date within 7 days of receiving the reminder you will lose the right to pay by instalments. If you pay the amount requested on the reminder, no further action is taken.

If you fail to address a reminder and do not pay the full amount, the next action will be for a Summons for non-payment to be issued. If you receive a Magistrates Court Summons because you have not paid your Business Rates, the cost of issuing the summons may be added to your account. If you still do not pay, we may ask a Civil Enforcement Agent to collect the debt on our behalf and you will have to pay further costs if this happens. A Civil Enforcement Agent may take some of your companies or your personnel possessions to sell at public auction to pay off the debt.

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