Coronavirus drives business rates dispute appeals by 690%

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Coronavirus drives business rates dispute appeals by 690%
// 690% surge in tax appeals challenging property valuations which form basis of business rates
// 144,910 shops, pubs, restaurants, offices, factories & public sector buildings lodged a Check to their property tax valuation
// This equates to 2230 non-domestic premises every working day in the first quarter of the tax year

Covid-19 has led to a huge surge in tax appeals from retailers and other businesses in England challenging property valuations which form the basis of business rates bills.

Data released from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an executive agency of HMRC, show a total of 144,910 shops, pubs, restaurants, offices, factories and public sector buildings lodged a Check to their property tax valuation during the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year.

This equates to 2230 non-domestic premises every working day to challenge their property valuations.


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The number of Checks lodged was up by a whopping 690 per cent on the corresponding period last year, when 18,340 Checks were raised between April and June 2019.

A Check is the first stage of a formal appeal under a three stage process called “Check Challenge Appeal”.

Alex Probyn, UK President of the real estate advisory firm Altus Group, said the impacts of Covid-19 on commercial properties “are already obvious arising from the national restrictive measures introduced to counter the pandemic and grounds exist to support a substantial and prolonged reduction”.

The UK Government has delayed the next revaluation of business rates in England until 2023 so that property valuations can be calculated by reference to emerging post-coronavirus rents that are being paid on April 1 next year.

Experts say successful appeals citing the pandemic are likely to offset that delay.

Probyn said time was of the essence to help those within sectors of the economy not in receipt of the business rates holiday like offices, factories and warehouses – all of which are present in the retail sector.

“The effects of the pandemic within the tax base must now be reflected quickly as the changes are so fundamental, uniform and wide ranging,” he said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has previously vowed to do “whatever it takes” to support business.

The Treasury have written off business rates bills this financial year to the tune of £10.22 billion for all occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties.

However, councils in England still expect to collect £15.4 billion in rates, according to Altus Group analysis.

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