Business rates exemptions, reliefs and reductions
You can read our Mandatory and Discretionary Rate Relief Policy here (pdf)
A brief outline of empty property in relation to business rates is included below. If you have any queries regarding this, please contact the Billing Team of 01827 709530.
Empty relief and charges
Where a business rates property is completely empty, it may be subject to a reduction in rates payable.
Where a property is empty, the ratepayer will be the person liable to possession. If there is a dispute between parties regarding who this is, we will make a judgement based on evidence provided and, if necessary, on the balance of probability.
Some property is never considered empty for rating purposes. For example advertising rights are always regarded as occupied. If the actual advertising boards are removed the VOA may remove the assessment from the rating list.
Some items may be disregarded when deciding whether a property is empty, such as plant and machinery.
Empty rate exemptions
Recently empty property: If a property has been empty for less than three months it will be exempt from empty rates. If the property is industrial (for example used for manufacturing, storage or mineral processing), this exemption is extended to six months. The exemption ends if the property is reoccupied before the exemption end date.
The exemption does not restart if the ratepayer changes as it is conditional on how long the property has been empty. Also if the property is reoccupied but remains occupied for less than six weeks, the three or six month period is calculated from the earlier empty date.
Land, etc.: Empty rates are only charged in respect of buildings, therefore if a business rates property does not include buildings it will not be charged empty rates. This will include mobile phone masts.
Properties left empty by a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or charity: The exemption will only apply if the property when next in use is expected to be used for the purposes of that charity or CASC (or by that charity/ CASC together with others). If there is little evidence to suggest this is the case, then it is unlikely this exemption will be awarded.
Occupation prohibited by law: If an owner is prohibited from occupying a property or allowing it to be occupied then this exemption may apply. However if the prohibition is for specific purposes or related to a specific individual or organisation, the property could be occupied for other means and would therefore not be exempt.
Listed buildings and ancient monuments: Where the empty property is a listed building or a designated ancient monument, an exemption will be applied.
Low rateable value or undergoing major improvements: If a property has a rateable value of under £2,600, it will be exempt from rates while empty.
Major improvement works will not entitle a ratepayer to an empty exemption; however the VOA may consider reducing the rateable value of the property while substantial alterations are being carried out.
Representatives of deceased/ insolvent persons or bodies: An exemption will also apply where the property is empty and the ratepayer is:
- Only entitled to possession in their capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
- Trustee under a deed of arrangement
- Subject to a winding up order
- Entitled to possession in their capacity as liquidator of a company
- A company in administration or subject to an administration order
We will require evidence to confirm that the relevant person is the ratepayer in these circumstances. If the property is leased, rented or similar we may need to make further enquiries regarding whether such agreements are ongoing.
Where a newly constructed property needs to be brought into the rating list but remains empty we may serve a completion notice to notify the owner of the date we consider the property complete for rating purposes. This notice may indicate a date up to three months in advance, for example if the property is not complete now but we consider could be completed in the near future.
Before serving a completion notice we are likely to have visited the property and consulted with our planning department to establish what work is required for completion and how long that could reasonably be expected to take.
The completion notice date will be the date the VOA use as the date the rateable value commences and the date the three or six month empty exemption will start from if the property remains empty.
If you receive a completion notice and do not agree with the date use, contact the Billing Team on 01827 709530 and we can discuss the property’s circumstances. If a date cannot be agreed an appeal can be made to the Valuation Tribunal.
Part occupation relief (Section 44a relief)
Where a property is only part occupied for a short period of time, we have the discretionary power to request the VOA provide a certificate showing the occupied and empty rateable value proportions.
If part of a property is temporarily unoccupied such as for a phased occupation or vacation of a property, you may be able to claim a reduction in your Business Rates for the unoccupied part. The area concerned must be totally unused (i.e. not used as a walkway) and where possible isolated from the occupied area.
If you think you may be eligible for a reduction, you should write to the Business Rates department and enclose:
- Details showing which part of the property is unoccupied (if possible enclose a site plan)
- The date this part of the property became unoccupied
When we receive the request our inspector will visit the property and we will then decide if a reduction can be allowed. If we decide to grant 44a relief we will request a certificate from the valuation officer that gives the proportion of the property's rateable value which applies to the unoccupied part. If we do grant relief it will only be for a maximum of three months for commercial assessments or six months for an industrial assessment. After this time 100% rates will be due.
Retrospective requests will require supporting evidence such as photographs, work dockets, etc.
Please note that submitting false or misleading evidence for financial gain is a crime under the Fraud Act 2006 and could lead to prosecution.
When we receive the certificate from the valuation officer, we will reduce your Business Rates accordingly.
How to Reduce Your Bill
European Union competition rules generally prohibit Government subsidies to businesses. Non-domestic rate relief can constitute state aid. Generally speaking, this can apply to all discretionary reliefs for commercial bodies. There is, however a “de minimis” threshold for this of €200,000 for any business over a rolling three year period under EC1407/2013. This is a cumulative figure for all Government grants including business rates relief.
We are likely to ask for confirmation from you when awarding relief that such an award would not exceed these limits.
If, however we award relief that you feel would lead to you exceeding the threshold you should contact us for the relief to be cancelled.
Further information on State Aid law can be found at: www.gov.uk/state-aid
Charitable & Not for Profit Relief
Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) may be entitled to 80% mandatory rate relief. To qualify, the property must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes or the purposes of the CASC.
Mandatory relief will not therefore be awarded in respect of properties where only a small portion is used for these purposes.
In addition to this, we may consider relief for up to the remaining 20% due where mandatory relief has been awarded.
Up to 100% relief may be awarded where the property is used by “not for profit” bodies whose main objects are charitable, philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.
Up to 100% relief may also be awarded where the property is wholly or mainly used for the purposes of recreation and all or part of it is occupied for the purposes of a club, society or other “not for profit” organisation.
Please contact the Billing Team on 01827 709530 for an application form if you wish to apply.
Small Business Rates Relief
Small properties a rateable value of under £51,000 will generally qualify for a reduction in the rates payable. The multiplier for these properties will be lower than any with a larger rateable value. For example in 2017/18 the multiplier for properties under £51,000 is 46.6 pence in the pound compared to 47.9 pence in the pound for larger properties. The higher multiplier continues to apply to empty properties or those in receipt of other relief.
In addition, ratepayers may be awarded further small business rate relief where they only have one non-domestic property and it has a rateable value of under £15,000. Where the rateable value is between £12,000 and £14,999, relief is awarded on a sliding scale based on the rateable value. If the property has a rateable value below £12,000, there can be 100% rates relief.
There are circumstances where a ratepayer owns more than one non-domestic rates property that they can qualify for relief, but the other properties must have a rateable value of under £2,900 and the total rateable value of all properties must be below £20,000.
You must notify us of any change that may affect your entitlement to small business rate relief within four weeks of that change.
Local newspaper relief
The Chancellor announced at the Budget that the Government will introduce a £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspaper publishers, up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits, for 2 years from 1 April 2017.
This is a temporary measure to support local newspapers adapt to technological changes within the industry. The relief is intended to be specifically for local newspapers and will be delivered through local authority discretionary powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act.
Business Rates - Telecom Fibre Optics Relief
From 1st April 2017, Government will fund a new five year 100% business rates relief scheme for premises that install new full-fibre communications infrastructure.
The new Business Rates Telecom Fibre Optics Relief scheme will support the rollout of new national full-fibre broadband infrastructure and future 5G communications to homes and businesses.
See the section on empty properties for information regarding empty exemptions and part occupation relief.
Some areas will award relief in respect of properties in rural settlements or Enterprise Zones. As there are no such areas in Tamworth these reliefs are not available.
We also have a general power to grant relief in other circumstances, such as when the ratepayer is experiencing hardship that the award of relief could ease. Contact the Billing Team on 01827 709530 for further information.
In the budget on Wednesday 8 March, the Chancellor made several announcements concerning Business Rates. Further information is available on the Budget 2017 page.