Business rates, or non-domestic rates, are a tax on the occupation of commercial property and other non-domestic property. The Local Government Finance Act 1988 introduced business rates in England, Wales and Scotland. Properties are assessed in a rating list with a rateable value. Rating Lists are created and maintained by the Valuation Office Agency, with a revaluation generally occurring every five years.

The way in which businesses and other occupiers of non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of local authority services. The VOA is responsible for assessing the rateable value of all non-domestic and business property in England and Wales. In broad terms, the rateable value is a professional view of the annual rent for a property if it was available on the open market on a set date.  All current rateable values are based on a valuation date of 1 April 2008.
Local councils use the rateable value, in conjunction with a factor called the multiplier, to calculate the basic business rates liability for each property, before applying any discounts or reliefs. Local councils are responsible for sending out the bills and collecting the rates payable. Rateable values are reassessed, or revalued, every five years, bringing them into line with current market values. For the 2010 revaluation, the valuation date is 1 April 2008.

Actual amounts paid are calculated by applying the Uniform Business Rate (UBR) to the Rateable Value.  The UBR changes annually and the current rates can be found at this government site (click link).

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