Behind on your business rates? You could end up in court.

Are you up to date with paying your business rates?

If not, you could become like one of the thousands of British businesses that have ended up in court for non-payment.

An investigation by the advisory firm CVS has found that nearly 200,000 business have been summoned to court for non-payment of business rates in the last year,  which equates to one in every eight business, even higher when looking at London. They also found that nearly half who were summoned also then had enforcement proceedings issued against them involving bailiffs.

Middlesborough council topped the list of summons with a quarter of all its businesses receiving court requests, with London borough Waltham Forest at 22% of businesses.

So are businesses just not bothering to pay their rates and stay on top of their finances, or is something deeper at play? Leader of the CVS, Mark Rigby, says that the figures collected show that the system criminalises struggling businesses.

He says “With budget constraints and deficits, we need to be more creative at the way we look at taxation so I am left in no doubt that business rates need to be looked at more holistically within the overall context of the economy, and other taxes, but not simply as a guaranteed revenue stream”.

On 1st April the first business rates revaluation in seven years come into effect

It will see all areas – except London – see an overall fall in their rates.  On average London bills will rise by 11% which equates to an extra £9.4 billion over the next five years.

Business rates are based on property values – hence London taking the larger hit – which are revalued every five years, delayed by two years on this occasion.  But is it fair to assess rates in this way, particularly when the owners of the business generally have very little control over these values?

As a business owner it is important for you to check you are rated and charged at the correct value.  For instance, areas used for storage are rated at a lower level that those used for offices or even car parking.  Could you use a parking space for storage and pay less?  If you do not feel that you are being charged correctly then challenge your council to justify the bill.

A government spokesman said: “The vast majority of businesses pay their bills on time and more than 98% of business rates are collected. It’s only fair on hard-working taxpayers that councils chase up all outstanding debts.”

Read the original BBC article here.

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