A NEW DIRECTION? THE NON-DOMESTIC RATING ACT 2023
A lengthy document that takes quite a bit of unravelling and translation, the Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023 may leave some Ratepayers unsure which directions are new and what they need to do next, while others may not be aware that it’s come into force at all… James Ward dissects the new legislation to avoid the unsuspecting Ratepayer falling foul of the legislation.
Here are the highlights to be aware of…
Duration of the Rating List
This is the biggest change and moves the Life of the List from five years to just three, beginning in 2026, although 2023 will be the first three-year List. This has been rumoured to be setting the scene for a move to even shorter Rating Lists with maybe even a one-year life being a possibility! We believe this to be a pipe-dream at present, as the framework required for this is beyond the reach of the Valuation Office Agency for the foreseeable future. However, the act does imply a closer link with the taxes arm of HMRC, so watch this space.
The restriction preventing billing authorities from making a decision to award discretionary relief more than six months after the end of the relevant financial year has been removed. This helps a little with slow moving bureaucracy, good luck!
Local Authorities can now apply a discretionary small business multiplier to “large” hereditaments. This stands at 1.3p for RVs of £51,000 or more.
Rural Rate Relief is now mandatory for those shops that qualify under the heading of village shops.
Improvement Rate Relief
If your extension or improvement meets the guidance then you could receive 12 months rates exemption on the improvement – but only if you were in occupation each day since the works began. This does not therefore apply to vacant buildings improved by the landlord.
This relief will run from 1st April 2024 until 1st April 2029 and will only apply to works completed by 31st March 2028.
The Act removes the requirement for downward transition, as we have already seen for 2023, and it does this by removing the need for transition to be “revenue neutral”.
Completion Notices, “New Buildings”
From December 2023, assessments deleted during refurb work can now have notices served on them, regardless of a lack of structural alterations.
Valuation Office Agency Open file Sharing
You will now be able to request pertinent information from the VOA if the VOA had access to this during a valuation process.
BUT this is still at the discretion of the VOA who can use GDPR, FOI or Data Protection law to refuse what might seem a reasonable and obvious tool to reach an agreement or for the ratepayer to understand why they are subject to a particular valuation.
The Valuation Office Agency are introducing Duty to Notify fines
Requirements are being put in place to penalise any ratepayer who fails to update their Government Gateway Portal identification details within 60 days of any changes to Tax numbers, National Insurance references or VAT numbers.
Add to this the new “Notifiable Information” self-assessment style system which is intended to collect annual information on alterations to property as well as occupation of such, but not at the request of the VOA but at the insistence of it through a system of fines for failing to provide this each year within 60 days of 30th April or any date of change which results in a notice from the VOA seeking information.
So, any material change of circumstances to a property will trigger this requirement for someone connected to the site.
As mentioned fines will apply for non-compliance and false information carries the threat of being treated as a criminal offence, but you WILL be able to appeal these fines and charges.
It is thought this new compliance will be implemented from 2024/2025.
Changes to what is to be considered a “Material Change of Circumstance”
Material change basis is being permanently altered to retain rules set during the Covid years, whereby you will be precluded from making reference to a “material change in circumstances” if these were as a result of legislation, advice or guidance from any public authority, provisions under legislation or anything done with a view to complying with any of the forementioned.
Harris Lamb are here to assist if you have any questions or if you believe you are wrongly valued in regard to Business Rates.
Most of the changes above had been in discussion for some time and these changes are in part welcome for ratepayers but the requirement to annually update the Valuation Office Agency on property details may require some specialist assistance and we are here to guide and advise should the need arise.
Harris Lamb would advise that whenever a major change to Business Rates or its legislation occurs the ratepayer should seek professional expert advice to avoid falling foul of the revised Law and associated fines that could be imposed.
These changes apply to the entire Rating List so whether you have a query on a single site or your entire portfolio we are here to help.
Scrutiny – iStock/ipuwadol