Business Rates Offices

Business Rates

Business Rates Offices

Clients

DWD work for a range of office occupiers of all sizes and sectors helping them to manage and reduce their business rates liability.

We operate across the country for single and multiple site occupiers and owners such as Aspect Telecom, Blackstone Property Management, LAFICO, Clyde & Co, Consumers Association, Travers Smith, Randstad, Petronas, Discovery Communications, EMC, Legal & General, Marcol Group, Tableau Software, The Doctor’s Laboratory, WorldRemit, Deutche Bank & XL Capital.

Tax Structure

Two separate parts of government administer business rates.  The Valuation Office (VOA), part of HMRC, are responsible for identifying and valuing units of rateable property.  The tax is payable at roughly 50% of their opinion of the rental value of your property.  Local Authorities are responsible for identifying the ratepayers, applying the correct charging rules, issuing rate demands and collecting the tax.

Our tax mitigation work falls into two distinct parts:  Challenging the assessments created by the VOA and managing the charging process.

Business rates are a tax on the occupation of property; exemptions are available where property is not occupied.

To keep the tax base up to date all non-domestic properties across the UK are revalued periodically.  The latest general revaluation in Great Britain was effective from 1 April 2017, the next one will have effect from 1 April 2021.  The revaluation brings new challenges especially with regards to an aggressive transitional relief scheme and an entirely new business rates appeal process.

Sector Issues

Opportunities to mitigate business rate liabilities arise throughout the property lifecycle.

Prior to occupation there will be opportunities to exploit empty property exemptions and the effective date regulations.  Where construction activity is involved in preparing a new office it may be possible to remove the empty rate liability completely for many months or even years.

The configuration of assessments can have a major impact on liability.  Following the Mazars decision (which introduced the “Staircase Tax”) the government will often assess separate floors in a building individually.  This can lead to a much higher aggregate liability.  With careful planning this can be avoided.

During the property’s lifetime there will potentially be restacking, reconfiguration, subletting or relocation projects.  Each of these events provides an opportunity to reduce the business rates overhead.

At the end of the property’s life the empty property’s rate liability will need to be carefully managed.  Different strategies will need to be adopted dependant on the circumstances and whether the property will be held empty for a short or long term.  Exemptions in excess of the statutory minimums are often achievable as are exemptions to reflect the phased vacation of space.

Appeals

For the 2017 Revaluation the government has introduced a new appeal system known as Check Challenge Appeal (CCA).  This has made the appeal process slower and more complex.  However, the underlying principles and opportunities presented by the rating system remain unchanged.

Occupiers will face issues relating to excessive valuations and changing circumstances that need to be managed.  Factual matters, value levels and unit of assessment issues are common place and will need to be challenged on appeal.

Scaffolding or neighbouring redevelopments cause disturbance that can be proved to adversely affect value and be used to reduce assessments.

Different appeal types can be used to achieve different objectives: Correcting factual Issues, challenging opinions of value or adjusting values to reflect changing circumstances.  In some cases, assessments can be reduced to £0 where significant and structural changes are being made to prepare for occupation.  An appropriate appeal strategy will be developed to suit the circumstances of each individual property and client.

Where property has been occupied by squatters it may be possible to delete the business rates assessment.

Where buildings have been newly completed, Local Authorities will often issue Completion Notices to force the early assessment of the building.  These are often badly executed and open to challenge, but the appeals need to be lodged very quickly.

DWD are expert in submitting and executing business rates appeals.

Exemptions & Relief

During empty or part occupied periods exemptions may be available to mitigate your business rates liability.   Exemptions may also be available during refits or reconfiguration work midway through the occupation.  Where phased work is planned discretionary relief may be available in stages for the parts of an assessment that are empty during the scheme.

Business Support

Part of our mission at DWD is to take the hassle of business rates off your desk.

We will provide annual budget forecasts for your portfolio.  We’ll also provide budget liabilities for proposed space that you may be considering taking.  We will check and authorise rate demands.  For some of our clients we act as the postal address for receiving demands and will only forward correct or corrected demands on to our clients’ accounts payable team that are correct for payment.

We offer advice on Business Rate Audits which review historic liability issues and often yield significant savings.  To ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of information supplied, we complete hundreds of Valuation Officer requests for rental information on our clients’ behalf every year.