Business rates, also known as non-domestic rates, are collected by local councils. They are the means by which businesses and others who occupy non-domestic property make a contribution towards the cost of local services.
There is more information about the business rates system on gov.uk
Prior to the 1st April 2013 the rates were pooled by central government and redistributed to local councils according to the number of people living in the area. However since April 2013 40% of the money collected is retained by Epping Forest District Council to be used to provide local services and 50% being passed back to the Government with the final 10% being distributed to Essex County Council.
Who pays business (non-domestic) rates?
Rates are usually paid by the occupier of a business premises, often the owner or leaseholder. If the property is empty, it's still usually the owner or leaseholder who pays the rates.
How do I pay my Business Rates bill?
The Council offers various methods and instalment plans - Pay your Business Rates
PLEASE NOTE: RETAIL RATE RELIEF WAS FOR A LIMITED PERIOD ONLY – THIS WAS 1 APRIL 2014 TO 31 MARCH 2016. THIS MEANS THAT FROM 1 APRIL 2016 ONWARDS NO RETAIL RATE RELIEF WILL BE SHOWING ON YOUR BILL.
Epping Forest Council is responsible for calculating and collecting the rates. The business rates bill is calculated by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the multiplier or 'poundage' which the Government sets from 1 April each year for the whole of England. The Government normally changes the multiplier every year to move in line with inflation. By law, the multiplier cannot go up by more than the rate of inflation, except in the year of a revaluation when it is set at a level which will keep the total amount raised in rates after the revaluation the same as before, plus inflation for that year.
The multiplier for 2016 / 2017 is
• 0.484 for those in receipt of small business relief
• 0.497 for those not in receipt of the relief
The rateable value of your property is shown on the front of your rates bill.
Apart from properties exempt from business rates, every non-domestic property has a rateable value set by the valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), part of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The VOA draws up and maintains a full list of all rateable values. You can look up a rateable value online.
The rateable value broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date - currently 1 April 2008 - on full repairing and insuring terms.
Rateable values are usually revalued every five years.
Rateable values are generally reassessed every five years so that bills paid by any one ratepayer reflect changes over time in the value of their property relative to others. The current rating list is based on the 2010 revaluation, which set the date as 1 April 2008. The Valuation Office Agency has more information on the last revaluation in 2010.
The government has postponed the next revaluation until 2017 to provide greater stability for businesses to encourage economic growth. Five yearly revaluations will continue from 2017.
If the rateable value of your property changes significantly as a result of revaluation, your rates will change gradually because the government limits how much your rates can increase or decrease each year. This is called transitional relief. If you are entitled to transitional relief, it will be shown on the front of your business rates bill.
A property's rateable value may be changed if:
- any physical changes are made to your property, such as building or demolishing an extension
- the property is in such poor condition that it cannot be economically repaired (in which case a reassessment may decide it should be taken out of the rating list or have its rateable value reduced to zero)
- the ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) believes the rateable value is wrong
Rateable value appeals are free and will be assessed by the valuation officer, an employee of the Valuation Office Agency. If the ratepayer and the valuation officer do not agree, the matter will be referred to a valuation tribunal.
If you employ an adviser to help you make your appeal, make sure they have the necessary rating knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Choosing a rating adviser who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation means they are qualified and regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.
You are required to continue paying your business rates at their current level while any appeal is in process.
For further information about the grounds on which appeals may be made and the process for doing so, in the first instance please contact the local valuation office.
There are some discounts and exemptions for Business Rates
These include the following categories
- empty properties
- small businesses
- Rate relief for business in rural areas
- charities and sports clubs
- Hardship relief
Below is more information on each of these or please contact the Business Rates Section to obtain further details.
Business rates on empty properties are known as ' unoccupied property rates'. They are not payable in the first three months that a property is empty. In the case of certain industrial & warehouse properties this is extended to six months. After this period, rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the government by order. If your unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, this will be shown on the front of your bill.
From October 2013 unoccupied newly built commercial properties will be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months (up to state aid limits). This means where the property comes on to the rating list between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016. The 18-month period includes the initial three or six month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.
There are a number of categories of properties that will be exempt from unoccupied property rates these include : An empty property held by a charity and appears likely to be next used for charitable purposes, or that is held by a community amateur sports club and appears likely to be next used for the purposes of the club, has a zero rating liability.
Other properties that are exempt are where:
- the building is listed
- occupation is prohibited by law
- the rateable value is less than £2,600
- the person entitled to possession is a personal representative of a deceased person
- the owner is a company subject to a winding up order, or a company in liquidation
- the owner is a company in administration
For further details please contact the Business Rates Section
Small businesses in the Epping Forest District area are defined as having rateable values of under £18,000.
Small businesses don't pay full business rates because their rates are calculated using a reduced multiplier, rather than the standard one (see 'what is a multiplier?' question). Also small businesses with a sole or main property with a rateable value under £12,000 qualify for percentage relief on their business rates:
The table summarises the reductions for small businesses:
Rateable value range
zero - £6,000
100% relief until March 2017
£6,001 - £11,999
Business rates calculated using the reduced non-domestic multiplier and relief on a percentage sliding scale
£12,000 - £17,999
Business rates calculated using the reduced non-domestic multiplier only
Follow this link for more information from Gov.uk on small business rate relief. If you think you should be receiving small business rate relief, contact us at Business Rates Section. If you meet the criteria you should automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period. Let us know if your circumstances change.
Download the application form for small business rates relief:
Certain types of business in rural villages, with a population below 3,000 may qualify for rate relief of 50%. Businesses that qualify for this relief are the sole general store, sole post office or food shop in the village, provided it has a rateable value of up to £8,500 and the sole pub and the sole petrol station in the village provided it has a rateable value of up to £12,500. Local councils have discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill on such property.
The local council may decide to give up to 100% relief to any other business in such a rural village, with a rateable value of up to £16,500, if it is satisfied that the business is of benefit to the community and having regard to the interests of its council tax payers.
Please contact the Business Rates Section for further details.
Download the application form for village shop rate relief:
Charities, including registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to relief from rates on any non-domestic property that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. Relief is given at 80% of the bill. Local councils have discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill.
Authorities also have discretion to give relief on all or part of any rates bill for property occupied by certain non-profit making bodies.
The present guidelines for awarding discretionary relief are as follows: The present guidelines for awarding discretionary relief are as follows:
- Where a charity is in receipt of 80% charitable relief the Council will not award a further 20% discretionary relief (except in the cases of properties occupied by local Scouts and Guides organizations, village halls which provide a Post Office facility and hospices within the district
- The Council will give 80% Discretionary Relief up to a maximum rateable value of £9,000 in approved cases. In order to qualify the organization should not be established or conducted for profit and, in the case of a Sports or Leisure Club should provide facilities to the public with an emphasis on a Youth policy and activities which might otherwise be provided by the Council
Download the application form for business rate discount for charities and similar organisations:
Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended, empowers a billing authority to reduce the amount of Council Tax due as it thinks fit. Furthermore, Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, as amended, empowers a billing authority to reduce the Business Rates due as it thinks fit.
If you wish to make a claim for discretionary reduction in your Council Tax or Business Rates and require further information.
Additional help to Business
The Council can also consider giving rate relief in cases of hardship or where part of a property is vacant and beyond use for a certain period. For further information and to see if we can assist you in reducing your bill or make an arrangement for settlement please contact our Business Rates Section