13 March 1998

Dont ignore rate forms

WATCH out for rate assessment forms dropping on the doormat in the next few days. Although the next rating revaluation of business premises comes into effect on Apr 1, 2000, it will be based on the annual rental value of Apr 1 this year.

The assessment will determine rates until 2005, so it is important to act now, says Charles Partridge of chartered surveyors Lambert Smith Hampton.

"Although agricultural businesses are exempt, farmers who have diversified may well be affected. For example, those who have established farm shops, nurseries or converted buildings for non-agricultural use may be liable."

To determine what will happen to rate liability it is worth studying the past five years, he advises.

The level of rates payable today is based on rateable value as at Apr 1, 1993. The tax (known as the Uniform Business Rate) has been set for the rate year 1998/99 at £0.474 in England and Scotland and £0.429 in Wales. Small properties with a rateable value of under £10,000 pay slightly less.

The normal rate liability for a property is calculated by multiplying the rateable value by the uniform business rates.

Property where the rate liability on Mar 31, 1995 was substantially higher or lower than that is subject to transitional rules which phase in these increases or decreases, Mr Partridge notes.

An appeal can be lodged at any time in England and Wales against rating assessments. In Scotland an appeal can only be lodged within six months of a change of occupier, a change of assessment or a change of physical state of the property.