Business rates may be an unwanted drain on the finances of your business, but they exist for good reason, and paying them is only fair. However, in the interest of that fairness, some businesses are eligible for business rates relief: sums of money intended to offset the burden of business rates payment for those who need it. For other reasons, a business or property may be entirely exempt from business rates. Your business may be eligible for relief or exemption for any one of the following reasons.
If your property is vacant
Unoccupied or empty properties are usually exempt from business rates for a period of three months. After that, they can be fully rateable once again, meaning owners of empty business premises face the double-burden of paying business rates without gaining any income from a tenant.
Luckily, there are ways to ease the burden. Firms like Oaksure Property Protection can help vacant property owners pay the lowest possible business rates while their property is empty.
If for whatever reason your property does remain vacant for a long period, alarm monitoring and maintenance will likely be needed to ensure your property is not vandalised or destroyed.
If your business is small
The term ‘small business’ is often used vaguely, and it’s difficult to know what counts. Is a food delivery service with one little office but thousands of employees a small business? Is a local restaurant with a large property but only a few members of staff a small business? Conventional wisdom may say the former was large and the latter was small, but when it comes to business rates, the building matters more than the people.
According to the government’s website, businesses qualify as small enough for rates relief if they are based in one location, which has a rateable value of £12,000 or less. Properties valued between £6,001 and £12,000 will be eligible for 100% to 0% relief on a sliding scale. Properties rated at £6,000 or below can be granted 100% business rates relief. If your property is currently valued at this level, contact your local council immediately to get the relief you deserve.
If your business is a charity
Charities are eligible for business rates relief if they use 80% of their property for charitable purposes. The amount of relief can vary from area to area, but some councils will grant as much as 100% to encourage charitable enterprise in their district.
As this CFG document shows, there is sometimes a dispute as to how to prove a property is used for charitable purposes, but studying the rules carefully and contacting your local council is likely to bring at least some relief if you run a charity.
If your business is in a rural area
Businesses in rural areas can qualify for rural rates relief in a number of different ways. First, your property has to be in a rural area with a population of less than 3000. Then, if your business is the only shop in the village, and has a rateable value of £8,500 or under, you are eligible. If your business is the only pub or petrol station in the village, and has a rateable value of £12,500 or under, you also are eligible.
The exact amount of relief given to rural businesses is up to the council, but it has to be at least 50%. If councils so wish, they can increase that to 100%.
If you think your business qualifies for any of the following relief grants, contact your local council now.