Scots urged to appeal business rates before September deadline

New business rates values introduced on 1 April 2017 must be appealed by 30 September, warns JLL in Scotland 

With the 30 September business rates appeal deadline looming, Scottish ratepayers are being urged to seek specialist advice as the Scottish Government proposes reform of Business Rates in Scotland.
Property firm JLL says businesses should act now to avoid being ‘locked in’ on new rateable values for the next five years and that companies still have time to challenge rating assessments they feel might be excessive.
According to JLL, the Scottish Assessors last reviewed the Rateable Values in April 2010 based on market values just before the recession in 2008 which led to many businesses paying rates based on peak value levels over the past seven years.
It says the latest revaluation, which is the first for seven years, came into force on 1 April this year and was calculated using market levels from April 2015. It warns that unless rateable values are challenged by September 30, they will be fixed until 2022.
The warning comes as the Scottish Government accepted a raft of proposals made by the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates; including one to reduce the rating cycle from five to three years – but only from the next revaluation in 2022.
Niall Rankin, Lead Director for Rating in Scotland at JLL, said: “The latest revaluation will lock businesses into a rating assessment which, without an appeal, will be difficult challenge for five years. With many new reliefs now available to ratepayers, we are encouraging companies to seek expert advice to make the most of these opportunities to make substantial savings in advance of the 30 September deadline.
“We broadly welcome the recommendations detailed within the Report of the Barclay Review and commend The Scottish Government on taking swift and decisive action in taking these proposals forward to promote business growth and investment in Scotland. The headline recommendation to adopt a three year rating cycle has been eagerly anticipated and has widespread support from the Scottish Assessors and ratepayers’ advisers.
“The introduction of the Business Growth Accelerator awarding 12 months rates relief for new builds and improvements to properties will be a very welcome boost.  Similarly, the revisals to Fresh Start Relief, will be of huge benefit to owners and prospective occupiers of vacant properties with RV beneath £65,000; where properties have lain vacant for six months the new occupier will be entitled to 12 months relief.
“An unintended consequence of these changes – due to take effect from April 2018 – is that developers may be best advised to hold off completion of works and new tenants might be better to hold off taking on new premises. Questions also remain over whether or not the reliefs will apply universally or if they will be subject to EU State Aid regulations.
“In order to benefit from these new reliefs it is critically important for businesses to obtain professional advice and to exercise their right of appeal before September 30.  Businesses have little to lose and potentially much to gain by lodging a protective appeal against their current Rateable Value.”
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