Hidden away in the detail of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement was a commitment to make some far-reaching alterations to the rights of occupiers and landlords who wish to appeal their rating assessments.
Specifically, the government stated it would change the rules so that alterations to rateable values could only be backdated to the period between 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2015 for Valuation Office Agency (VOA) alterations made before 1 April 2016 and ratepayers’ appeals made before 1 April 2015.
In plain English, this means that unless a valid appeal is made before the end of the rate year, ratepayers will have to rely on the VOA to backdate the alteration. There will be no automatic right to retrospective refund if the assessment is reduced.
Having extended the revaluation on evidence subsequently found to be flawed, the government is now rubbing salt in the wound by changing the backdating provisions. Not only has it failed to issue the regulations for a measure that takes effect in less than six weeks, but it is also risking a deluge of appeals just at the point when the VOA should be committing resources to getting the 2017 revaluation correct.
One of the defining principles of a fair tax system is the ability of the tax payer to challenge their assessment and to be properly recompensed if it is shown to be wrong. This measure seems to me to be at odds with that position.
Mark Higgin, partner and head of rating, Montagu Evans