The Scottish Government is warming up businesses north of the border for changes to business rates come April next year.
Following on from the Barclay Review of non-domestic rates back in 2017 a raft of recommendations were made with the majority adopted (all this took place pre-Coronavirus). The changes became law and are now due to come into force on April 1, 2021.
To start with revaluations will be carried out more frequently – every three years (instead of five) from the next revaluation, this is to try and align the value of properties more closely to current market values making the system more flexible to changing economic circumstances.
To help businesses understand the new system a standardised bill has been introduced by councils to improve clarity and consistency across Scotland and it’s hoped that Councils will be able to process refunds more quickly for overpayment of rates.
When it comes to assessing business rates, Scotland is also attempting to move towards greater transparency and assessors will be required to provide more and clearer information to ratepayers on how a property’s rateable value has been calculated.
But it isn’t all one-way traffic, there is also greater onus on businesses to provide speedy and accurate information to the assessors. As from 1 April, 2021, councils can request information from an owner or occupier and they must respond within 21 days or face a fine of up to £370. Likewise, failure to inform your council of a change in occupier within 42 days could incur the same penalty. There will also be tougher crackdown of late payers with Council able to initiate debt recovery as soon as payment instalment is missed.
On the Appeals system, as from April 2022, a new two-stage appeals system will be introduced. The reforms adopted here are also intended to speed up the process for those who need to go to an appeal hearing.
For those with self-catering accommodation, in order to be classed as a non-domestic property and be liable for non-domestic rates instead of Council Tax, as from 2021-22 a self-catering property will have to provide evidence of 70 days of actual letting as well as 140 days of intention to let. Councils will have some discretion to change that criteria in exceptional circumstances.
If you have business interests in Scotland you can find more information about the changes at: https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-guidance/.