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. 


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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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Changes in the way business rates are appealed

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. One of the biggest changes to business rates following the 2017 Rating Revaluation was the introduction of the ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ in an attempt from the government to reform the rating appeal system. A key component of the new system is that it will be necessary for ratepayers to set up a secure Government Gateway account, add their properties and appoint an agent to act on their behalf by electronically managing the check, challenge and appeal process.

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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

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

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). 

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Barclay review into business rates is a step in the right direction for Scotland

In a report that has been keenly anticipated by the business rates sector, the Barclay review group published their Scottish business rates review earlier this week. The Barclay review group was created to provide recommendations on reforming the current business rates system in Scotland. The group is chaired by Ken Barclay, former banker at the Royal Bank of Scotland and met numerous times over the past few months to compile the report.

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Rates management

"Left to their own devices, most recipients of a non-domestic rates demand will get out their pocket calculator and check that the arithmetic is correct, then sign it off for payment" The arithmetic always will be - as the bill comes out of a computer! There is however rather more to a Rates bill than that. Rates Management is an additional service that professionally qualified Rates Liability specialists at Sanderson Weatherall provide to a growing number of rating clients. We arrange to receive business rates bills directly from the local billing authority, ratify and authorise these over a very short timescale, before reporting back to the client. Every account is given a multi-point check to ensure validity and accuracy. Where possible, we can often renegotiate instalment payments to aid the client's cash flow. Based on available information and taking the often complex transitional arrangements into account, we can then work with our clients to produce timely and accurate budget forecasts. If required, we can also arrange for the client to put us in funds to effect the payment of rates accounts by cheque, direct debit, BACS or most other methods. By outsourcing the process of rates bills, we can save our clients considerable time and money. If you have ever tried in vain to contact the correct person at a local billing authority, you will know how difficult and time consuming this can be! (The hours just slip by!) Sanderson Weatherall liability experts deal regularly with the authorities concerned. Our fees for this service are always extremely cost effective and a quotation, tailored to the job in hand, can be provided on request. Contact Us

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Rates audit

As a business ratepayer, how do you know that the historic rates you have dutifully paid are correct? Sanderson Weatherall provides a specialist Rates Audit Service which, through meticulous research into past rate years, ensures both the accuracy of existing rates payments and investigates whether there are any credits resting in local authority holding accounts that should already have been refunded. These credits may consist of overpayments that should have been received in the form of refunds due to changes in occupation or rateable values. Interest and/or tax refunds are often due in certain circumstances on overpayments, together with a tax certificate, which enables a refund in tax already paid to be obtained from HM Revenues and Customs. Starting from scratch our experts recalculate what Business Rates payments should properly have been over past years to ascertain whether what clients have actually paid is correct. Our fees for this service are typically pure incentive based - if we find nothing, then you pay us nothing! Contact Us

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Local Property Taxation

Local Property Taxation, whether in the UK or internationally, is a outgoing which arises as a result of the occupation or ownership of property. Sanderson Weatherall LLP local taxation experts can advise on various fully legal strategies to mitigate this burden, whether on an individual property or across an entire portfolio. Local Property Taxation (UK)   In the United Kingdom, local property taxes are known as Non Domestic Rates (NDR) or Business Rates for commercial properties; and as Council Tax for residential properties. Local Property Tax (International)   Local Property Tax is levied by municipalities in countries across the world to raise revenue to provide local services.   First world countries even now in the 21st century operate a wide range of different approaches, due to a mixture of historical, geographic, demographic, economic and political factors. These approaches may range from taxes levied solely on land values, to taxes levied on both the land and improved values due to the addition of buildings and elements of plant and machinery. They may be based on occupation or ownership, or both. Typically developing countries that want to move towards localising taxation will start with the application of a land value based tax, before migrating towards a more comprehensive system, where the system is refined to include site additions in the form of buildings. Robert Brown, Partner, Rating Services at Sanderson Weatherall LLP is a past national council member of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV), an institute which has for many years teamed up with the International Property Tax Institute (IPTI) to hold a biennial international conference on international local property taxation. If you have international local property taxation issues we can help, whether in dealing with the matter directly or by helping you to make contact with a suitable adviser in the country concerned. Contact Us

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Rates relief process plagued by delays

The Government has recently intervened in an attempt to speed up business rates relief to thousands of small businesses across the country that have been adversely affected. Despite being promised millions of pounds of support in March’s Budget, many firms who lost small business rates relief as a consequence of the 2017 revaluation are still waiting for their bills to be adjusted and relief to be applied. During the 2017 revaluation the majority of businesses saw little change to their bills but it is estimated that there were nearly 25,000 small companies that lost their entitlement to small business rates relief and faced rates rises of up to 3,000%.

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