The government plans to remove the 'Staircase Tax' in multi-tenanted buildings

Published on: 17th January 2018

Backdated business rates demands for businesses who occupy more than one floor in a multi-let building are ‘particularly unfair’ a committee of MP’s has said.

Following the recent Supreme Court decision of Woolway v Mazars the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is now assessing each floor separately in multi-let buildings if an occupier has to access an adjacent floor in a building via the common parts (lift or staircase). 

In most cases, the splitting up of these floors has been backdated to April 2015. Some, however, went as far back as 2010. With the removal of quantum allowances or small business rate relief, this has given rise to some significant backdated increases in both rateable value and resultant liability.

However, the splitting of assessments per floor hasn’t been carried out in a uniform manor and there are currently many inequities in the system.

It has also given rise to considerable despair on behalf of ratepayers who have received numerous and confusing rates bills with an end result of having a much higher liability! Ratepayers had been paying what they considered to be the correct tax over the last 5 years and the ‘staircase tax’ has therefore been met with considerable anger in the business community.

Previously, there was a much simpler rule for business occupiers – where a business occupied two or more adjacent floors within a multi-tenanted building, they would for rating purposes form a single assessment. Having a single assessment has many advantages to the ratepayer including the potential for a lower valuation per £/m and the potential for allowances.

The government has now fully acknowledged the unfairness of the current situation and has committed to reversing the unintended consequences of the Mazars ruling. The aim will be to reinstate VOA practice to that as it was prior to the decision. This will be in the form of revised legislation that will allow the VOA to ignore to some extent the new Mazars rules.

Sanderson Weatherall will continue to provide regular updates as the situation develops and once the legislation is finalised, and anticipate that proposals to take advantage of the new regulations could be made by the end of the financial year.

To discuss the potential implications of the new legislation on your own business, including estimates on revised liabilities for the property you occupy, please speak to the SW Rating Department.

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Business Rates Autumn Budget Highlights

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, gave his first Autumn budget to parliament today and we have pulled together the headlines for business rates: Key Business Rates Highlights - Business rates annual increase to be based on CPI rather RPI brought forward to April 2018- Discount for pubs, with a rateable value less than £100,000, extended for a further year- After 2022 revaluation, future revaluations to take place every three years - Staircase tax to be axed

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Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, gave his first Autumn budget to parliament today and we have pulled together the headlines for business rates:

Key Business Rates Highlights

- Business rates annual increase to be based on CPI rather RPI brought forward to April 2018
- Discount for pubs, with a rateable value less than £100,000, extended for a further year
- After 2022 revaluation, future revaluations to take place every three years
- Staircase tax to be axed

[fulltext] =>

 Our Thoughts

Graham Isle, business rates expert in our Leeds team commented on today’s budget, focusing on the changes to business rates and how this will affect businesses across England and Wales.

“During the budget it was announced that from next April (2018) the annual rates increase will be based off the lower Consumer Price Index rather than the Retail Price Index. Before today’s announcement it had been promised that this change would be made in 2020 so it’s great to see the decision brought forward as early estimates indicate it could bring about a benefit of £2.3billion to small businesses over the next five years.

“It was also good to hear that following the next revaluation in 2022 the government plan to increase the frequency of revaluations from once every five years to once every three years. Moving forward this should ensure that business rates bills are more in line with properties market value and enable fairer bills to be generated.

“There was also welcome news for thousands of businesses occupying workplaces split across multiple floors as Hammond announced he would axe the staircase tax. Despite the ruling, businesses affected will need to continue paying their current bill until legislation is approved and the Valuation Office Agency make the amendments. Unfortunately, this may take time, which isn't good news for businesses in the short term. 

“Following the success of the business rates discount for pubs it was declared that this would be extended until May 2019, good news for the leisure sector as roughly 90% of pubs currently benefit from the £1,000 discount.

“In other news It was also announced that local authorities would now be able to charge 100% council tax on empty properties to penalise those with vacant properties and hopefully increase housing availability across the country.”

To speak to Graham about today’s changes and your business rates liabilities moving forward please contact him on 0113 221 6119 or at graham.isle@sw.co.uk.

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Business Rates

Sanderson Weatherall Rating specialists are RICS and IRRV qualified surveyors that can offer a comprehensive range of Rating services to clients including Rating Appeals, Rating Valuations, Rates Management and Rates Audit, together with cutting edge advice on Empty Rates mitigation. Regarded as experts in the field, all our senior staff are members of the Rating Surveyors' Association and are able to offer the very best Rates advice on the accuracy of Rating assessments and resultant Business Rates liabilities. Through our experts' memberships of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation we are also happy to assist clients who have international local property tax liabilities. We participate in the activities of both of these professional bodies at the highest level and negotiate with government on the introduction of all new non domestic rating proposals. On the 1st April 2017 the new rating lists were published across England and Wales and from that date, businesses looking to challenge their business rates were required to do so through HMRC’s Government Gateway. If you don’t currently have an account then please follow the steps in our guide to setting up a Government Gateway account, registering properties and appointing an agent here.    Contact Us

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Sanderson Weatherall Rating specialists are RICS and IRRV qualified surveyors that can offer a comprehensive range of Rating services to clients including Rating Appeals, Rating Valuations, Rates Management and Rates Audit, together with cutting edge advice on Empty Rates mitigation.

Regarded as experts in the field, all our senior staff are members of the Rating Surveyors' Association and are able to offer the very best Rates advice on the accuracy of Rating assessments and resultant Business Rates liabilities. Through our experts' memberships of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation we are also happy to assist clients who have international local property tax liabilities. We participate in the activities of both of these professional bodies at the highest level and negotiate with government on the introduction of all new non domestic rating proposals.

On the 1st April 2017 the new rating lists were published across England and Wales and from that date, businesses looking to challenge their business rates were required to do so through HMRC’s Government Gateway.

If you don’t currently have an account then please follow the steps in our guide to setting up a Government Gateway account, registering properties and appointing an agent here. 

 

Contact Us

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Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Business Rates

On March 1st a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court resolved whether owners of commercial properties will need to pay business rates during renovation or development work. Our rating team first started work on the S J & J Monk v Newbigin case in 2013, when the Valuation Office Agency stated they would base the rateable value of an office, during renovation and subdivision, on its pre-scheme rateable value. The decision meant that the owners, S J & J Monk, still had to pay business rates on the 15,000 sq ft Sunderland office space, with a rateable value of £102,000, despite it having being stripped to a shell and unable to be occupied during the renovation.

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On March 1st a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court resolved whether owners of commercial properties will need to pay business rates during renovation or development work.

Our rating team first started work on the S J & J Monk v Newbigin case in 2013, when the Valuation Office Agency stated they would base the rateable value of an office, during renovation and subdivision, on its pre-scheme rateable value.

The decision meant that the owners, S J & J Monk, still had to pay business rates on the 15,000 sq ft Sunderland office space, with a rateable value of £102,000, despite it having being stripped to a shell and unable to be occupied during the renovation.

[fulltext] =>

The case was taken to Valuation Tribunal by Rating Partner, Richard Farr, who appealed the decision on the basis that until then, properties undergoing major work had been given a nominal rateable value of £1. Farr later won the appeal at Lands Chamber, but the decision was subsequently overturned at High Court.

However, the ruling by the Supreme Court concluded that the property should be given a nominal £1 rateable value, on the grounds that it is undergoing significant refurbishment which restricts it from being a functional office space.

Richard Farr commented, "I am delighted by the eventual ruling at the Supreme Court, four years after I first started this case. Thedecision is welcome news for ratepayers, who will not be required to pay business rates on properties that are undergoing construction.

"This is of course also good news for the industry, with the threat of unnecessary rates bills no longer creating barriers for developers and investors."

The nominal assessment will not be automatic, and affected ratepayers will need to seek advice from a professionally qualified rating surveyor.

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Business Rates Bills to increase by 3.9% from April 2018

Since last year the Retail Prices Index (RPI) has almost doubled, from 2% in September 2016 to 3.9% in September 2017, on figures released by the government on 17th October. The RPI is an index that shows the changes in the cost of living throughout the UK and each year business rates are adjusted using the index to generate the Uniform Business Rates Multiplier, which helps determine how much businesses pay.

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Since last year the Retail Prices Index (RPI) has almost doubled, from 2% in September 2016 to 3.9% in September 2017, on figures released by the government on 17th October.

The RPI is an index that shows the changes in the cost of living throughout the UK and each year business rates are adjusted using the index to generate the Uniform Business Rates Multiplier, which helps determine how much businesses pay.

[fulltext] =>

Graham Isle, partner in our business rates team commented on the announcement, “The announcement earlier this month will be a very unwelcome one for many businesses that are already facing a number of increasing financial pressures.

“It is estimated that the increase of 3.9% could cause business rates bills to increase by over £1.1billion next year, with the retail sector alone facing increases of over £300million.

“This only adds further pressure to the government to bring forward the change of measuring the multiplier using the lower rate of the Consumer Price Index, a change which has been promised to happen in 2020.”

It was also announced today that for the first time in over five years the UK inflation rate reached 3%, up from 2.9% in August.

The rise in the inflation rate to its highest level since April 2012 has been caused by an increase in food and transport prices and a fall in the value of the pound, causing the cost of imported goods to increase.

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What are business rates?

Business rates are perhaps the most feared and generally the most misunderstood of all taxes on UK property. Our rating surveyors are professionally qualified to fully investigate all possible rates scenarios. We negotiate with both the Valuation Office Agency and local billing authorities to mitigate the impact caused by this significant property outgoing. We also check, authorise and can arrange payments of clients’ rates bills and carry out a full Rates Audit of past liabilities, recovering principal overpayments, interest and tax certificates. We advise a variety of clients ranging from major PLCs with national property portfolios to local authorities, landlords and small individual businesses. We have wide-ranging experience in a number of specialist areas including: The motor trade Prestige city offices High street retail Industrial and warehousing Retail warehouses and retail schemes Major printing works and glassworks Television and film studios Banks Call centres and computer centres Independent schools and colleges Leisure and hotels Licensed properties, in particular free houses and nightclubs Utilities Business rating advice is highly cost effective and more often than not, our professional fees on appeals are fully met from the cash savings achieved. No upfront charges are ever made before advice is given. We can also provide non-contingency fee consultancy advice at fixed rates where the client so requires. Contact Us

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stdClass Object ( [state] => 1 [modified] => 2016-12-12 15:47:20 [id] => 94 [asset_id] => 242 [title] => What are business rates? [alias] => what-are-business-rates [introtext] =>

Business rates are perhaps the most feared and generally the most misunderstood of all taxes on UK property. Our rating surveyors are professionally qualified to fully investigate all possible rates scenarios.

We negotiate with both the Valuation Office Agency and local billing authorities to mitigate the impact caused by this significant property outgoing. We also check, authorise and can arrange payments of clients’ rates bills and carry out a full Rates Audit of past liabilities, recovering principal overpayments, interest and tax certificates.

We advise a variety of clients ranging from major PLCs with national property portfolios to local authorities, landlords and small individual businesses.

We have wide-ranging experience in a number of specialist areas including:

  • The motor trade
  • Prestige city offices
  • High street retail
  • Industrial and warehousing
  • Retail warehouses and retail schemes
  • Major printing works and glassworks
  • Television and film studios
  • Banks
  • Call centres and computer centres
  • Independent schools and colleges
  • Leisure and hotels
  • Licensed properties, in particular free houses and nightclubs
  • Utilities

Business rating advice is highly cost effective and more often than not, our professional fees on appeals are fully met from the cash savings achieved. No upfront charges are ever made before advice is given. We can also provide non-contingency fee consultancy advice at fixed rates where the client so requires.

Contact Us

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[page_rights] => [robots] => [access-view] => 1 ) [initialized:protected] => 1 [separator] => . ) ) URL: /news?catid=112&layout=default&id=94:what-are-business-rates&breadcrumb=noimage

Empty rates

The empty rates problem Have you received a non-domestic rates account for empty rates on a property that you are not occupying? Sanderson Weatherall rating surveyors at are currently advising a wide range of business clients on fully legal strategies to help mitigate, or in some cases even avoid the payment of empty rates. The last government enacted a major change to the previous system of empty rates relief on 1st April 2008 and no further changes are currently in the pipeline. Now, empty rates are payable at a full 100% of occupied rates after the expiry of an initial void period, which may be either 3 months or 6 months, depending upon the type of commercial property. There are further, albeit very limited, exemptions available for listed buildings, storage land and small properties. Charitable organisations may also receive some relief, although extreme care should be taken, as complex limitations apply. Proper professionally qualified advice from a suitably qualified rating surveyor should be taken in all circumstances, as if a problem does arise, the outcome will probably be a rapid return to the full 100% charge with limited rights of redress. Sanderson Weatherall has developed a range of legal property strategies to avoid the payment of empty rates and as a result we have saved many clients a small fortune. Strategies may range from cross - portfolio advice where contents can be moved to the most suitable properties, to the creation of perfectly legal avoidance schemes that are acceptable to local billing authorities as they fall within the established laws of rateable occupation. We can also help our clients who may have a short term need for temporary storage, by linking them up with our other clients elsewhere who need to demonstrate rateable occupation. Contact us now for bespoke professional advice on empty rates. Contact Us

Read More....

stdClass Object ( [state] => 1 [modified] => 2016-12-12 15:46:29 [id] => 96 [asset_id] => 244 [title] => Empty rates [alias] => empty-rates [introtext] =>

The empty rates problem

Have you received a non-domestic rates account for empty rates on a property that you are not occupying?

Sanderson Weatherall rating surveyors at are currently advising a wide range of business clients on fully legal strategies to help mitigate, or in some cases even avoid the payment of empty rates.

The last government enacted a major change to the previous system of empty rates relief on 1st April 2008 and no further changes are currently in the pipeline. Now, empty rates are payable at a full 100% of occupied rates after the expiry of an initial void period, which may be either 3 months or 6 months, depending upon the type of commercial property. There are further, albeit very limited, exemptions available for listed buildings, storage land and small properties. Charitable organisations may also receive some relief, although extreme care should be taken, as complex limitations apply.

Proper professionally qualified advice from a suitably qualified rating surveyor should be taken in all circumstances, as if a problem does arise, the outcome will probably be a rapid return to the full 100% charge with limited rights of redress.

Sanderson Weatherall has developed a range of legal property strategies to avoid the payment of empty rates and as a result we have saved many clients a small fortune. Strategies may range from cross - portfolio advice where contents can be moved to the most suitable properties, to the creation of perfectly legal avoidance schemes that are acceptable to local billing authorities as they fall within the established laws of rateable occupation.

We can also help our clients who may have a short term need for temporary storage, by linking them up with our other clients elsewhere who need to demonstrate rateable occupation.

Contact us now for bespoke professional advice on empty rates.

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