Rating specialists at Harris Lamb have welcomed key aspects of the Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023 but are warning Ratepayers that requirements to provide annual updates on their properties could result in hefty fines if forgotten or disregarded.

The Government has brought in new legislation affecting Ratepayers, with key changes in place relating to the duration of the Rating List, requirements to share information with the Valuation Office Agency and penalties being imposed for non-compliance.

James Ward, of Harris Lamb’s specialist Business Rates team, said that the key change in legislation brought in was the duration of the Rating List, which, instead of covering a five-year period, will alter to just three years from 2026.

James said: “While 2026 officially marks the beginning of the three-year List, this year will actually be the first, and is rumoured to be setting the scene for a transition to shorter Rating Lists still – allegedly with a one-year List being a possibility. That said, we believe that to be a pipedream at present, as the framework required for this is beyond the reach of the Valuation Office Agency for the foreseeable future. 

“We also welcome the removal of restrictions preventing billing authorities from making a decision to award discretionary relief more than six months after the end of the relevant financial year, which will prove a huge benefit for Ratepayers finding their applications delayed due to slow-moving departments.

“Most of the changes that have come into force have been in discussion for some time and are in part welcome for ratepayers, but the requirement to annually update the Valuation Office Agency on property detail, something that has been met with some concern since it was first mooted by the Government, may require some specialist assistance,” he said.

These 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, as well as those who fail to comply with the new ‘Notifiable Information’ self-assessment style system which collects annual information on the occupation of, and alterations to, any business property.

“Failing to provide this information each year within 60 days of 30th April will result in a system of fines, and providing false information carries the threat of being treated as a criminal offence – though the fines and charges will be subject to appeal. 

“Any material change of circumstances to a property will trigger this requirement for someone connected to the site, with the new compliance being implemented from 2024/2025.

“Whenever a major change to Business Rates or its legislation occurs, ratepayers should seek professional expert advice to avoid falling foul of the revised Law and associated fines that could be imposed, and we believe that this new requirement is likely to present businesses with problems in collation and submission and is therefore a key area to seek professional support to ensure compliance,” James said.

For full details of the salient points within the Act, visit Harris Lamb’s blog. To discuss any concerns around the legislation or Business Rates in general, contact the team on rating@harrislamb.com.

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