Questions about your business rates

1. What are business rates?

Business rates is a local tax that is paid by the occupiers of all non-domestic/business property, in the same way that council tax is a tax on domestic property.

Business rates are charged on most business properties such as shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. However, the property doesn't have to be used for a business - it it is used for purposes which are not domestic it is likely to be rateable. We will send you a business rates bill each year.

2. Roles and responsibilities?

The Valuation office Agency (VOA) sets the rateable value of business premises by using property details such as rental information.

We use the rateable value and the business rates multiplier (set by central government) to calculate your business rates bill.

3. What is the rateable value?

The rateable value is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency, which is an agency of HM Revenue and Customs.

A property's rateable value is an assessment of the annual rent the property would rent for if it were available to let on the open market at a fixed valuation date:

  • until 31 March 2017, the rateable values will be based on a valuation date of 1 April 2008
  • from 1 April 2017, the rateable values will be based on the valuation date of 1 April 2015

If you think your rateable value is incorrect, you can find and view your property details on GOV.UK.

4. What is a revaluation?

The VOA regularly reassess and update the rateable values of all business properties usually every five years. This is called a Revaluation. This is done to maintain fairness in the system by redistributing the total amount payable in business rates, reflecting changes in the property market. Revaluation does not raise extra revenue overall.

5. How can I find out more?

For more information on the 2017 Revaluation, rateable values, and business rates go to GOV.UK.

You can also estimate your business rates bill, including any small business rate relief that may apply.

6. What if I have overpaid my business rates?

If you believe that you may be entitled to a refund of rates, please contact the City Council at Westminster City Council, PO Box 187, Erith DA8 9EY. Credits may also be offset against arrears if requested.

7. What if I do not pay on time?

You will receive a reminder for the first instalment that is late. If you want to carry on paying by instalments, you must pay the amount shown on the reminder within 7 days. If you do not pay this amount with 7 days you will lose your right to pay by instalments and you will have to pay the full balance of your business rates after a further 7 days.

If we cancel your instalments because you have not paid on time, we will apply to the Court for a summons to be issued against you.

Business Rates Recovery Policy

8. What if my rates are too high?

The rateable value of a property is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) of HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) and forms the basis of the calculation of your business rates liability. Should you therefore feel that your rates are too high, or if you have a valuation matter you wish to discuss, please contact the VOA on 03000 501501.

Read information on the VOA

It should be noted however, that payment must continue to be made on the basis of the existing assessment as it appears in the current rating list, even whilst an appeal is outstanding. Once official notification is received from the VOA of an amendment to the list, any necessary alterations to your account will be made and any appropriate refund issued.

9. What if I have a tenancy that is inclusive of rates?

In accordance with current rating legislation, the liability for the National Non Domestic Rate falls upon the occupier of the premises. This is regardless of stipulations within your tenancy agreement, as the Council can not enter into third party agreements between you and your landlord. In the event of the property being vacant, liability falls upon the 'owner', defined as the person entitled to possession the property, again regardless of any third party agreements that you may have.

10. What do I do if I receive a letter or visit from a Debt Enforcement Agent?

You will have to contact the bailiffs direct to make an arrangement to clear the balance outstanding.

The Council uses two Debt Enforcement Companies. If you receive a letter or a visit you can find details of how to make a payment, details of fees and charges, debt advice and general information about bailiff standards by clicking on the relevant link below:

Equita
Newlyn PLC

11. Change of circumstances

It is important that you advise us of any changes in your circumstances that affect your Business Rates (NNDR) liability. The following are examples of changes of circumstances that would affect your liability:

  • if you move address
  • if you believe that you are entitled to a NNDR allowance (e.g. Mandatory/Discretionary Relief)
  • if you believe that you are no longer entitled to a NNDR allowance
  • if the Valuation Officer amends your rateable value
  • if your property changes from empty to occupied (or vice versa)

We will re-calculate your liability and re-issue you with an amended bill. If the change of circumstance results in your NNDR Liability being overpaid, we will issue you with a credit bill and a refund request form.

If you are moving to an address outside or within Westminster complete the online moving out form.

If you vacate your property it is important that you provide the City Council with a forwarding address, in order that the City Council can forward your credit bill and refund request form to the correct address.

To notify us of your change of circumstances or if you believe that you may be entitled to a refund, please email us on westminster.nndr@secure.capita.co.uk or write to us at NNDR, PO Box 187, Erith, DA8 9EY.

12. Can the council charge me for providing information?

The Council’s Business Rates Service offers an historic account information retrieval and audit service which is in addition to the usual service provided. The service is offered to assist companies, or their agents, in conducting detailed audits of their historic business rates accounts. Please note that agents will require a signed authorisation from the ratepayer to act on a ratepayer’s behalf.

The additional discretionary service provides for the retrieval and collation of historic data relating to searches of accounts where bills had previously been issued and the information requested is older than the current year plus 12 months.

The checks can include details of the property, any reliefs that were paid, a full breakdown of the account along with details of the periods of occupation, details of any rateable value changes, details of any account balances and any transitional protection applied to the accounts.

 The following charges will apply:

Service Charges Response Time
For each property address for which a search is required. Information will include the liable party, the liability per year and details of account balances. £25 per account. (If the search covers either more than a 3 year period or includes the 1990 rating list the charge will increase to £50 per account). Where one request is made we will respond within 5 working days. If multiple requests are made please allow an additional day per additional property.
A full statement will provide all of the above, plus details of all individual payments per year and details of any transitional or other reliefs that have been claimed.

The charge will be £25 for each financial year per account.

 N/A

These charges apply on the basis that this information has been provided direct to the account holder previously  and  therefore carrying out searches to identify accounts and or retrieving  historic account information, assisting with an audit of the account and collating  the information is discretionary and beyond normal day to day service delivery.

Please note that the council will only provide information to the account holder or to a third party who has a signed letter of authorisation to act on behalf of the account holder.

The Council can also provide details of historical rateable values for the period 01 April 1963 to the 31 March 1990. A charge is payable for this information. For the first hour of any work carried out regarding your enquiry, £47.50 will become due. In addition, £25.00 will be charged for each hour or part hour thereafter.

Payment should be made in advance by cheque and made payable to Capita Business Services Ltd.  Upon receiving the payment the work will be carried out and sent in a standard XL Spreadsheet format.


Last updated: 20 January 2017
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