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Business rates FAQs

What are business rates?

Non-Domestic rates, or business rates, collected by local authorities are the way that those who occupy non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of local services. Under the business rates retention arrangements introduced from 1st April 2013, authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. This provides a direct financial incentive to authorities to work with local businesses to create a favourable local environment for growth since authorities will benefit from growth in business rates revenues.

The money, together with revenue from council tax payers, revenue support grant provided by the Government and certain other sums, is used to pay for the services provided by your local authority and other local authorities in your area.

Further information about the business rates system may be obtained at GOV.UK:Introduction to Business Rates

Who has to pay business rates?

The occupier of a non domestic property normally pays the business rates. Usually this is the owner-occupier or leaseholder. If the property is empty, the person entitled to possession will be liable for the unoccupied charge.

Do I pay business rates if I work at home?

You don't usually have to pay business rates for home-based businesses if you:

  • use a small part of your home for your business, for example if you use a bedroom as an office
  • sell goods by post

You may need to pay business rates as well as Council Tax if:

  • your property is part business and part domestic, for example if you live above your shop
  • you sell goods or services to people who visit your property
  • you employ other people to work at your property
  • you've made changes to your home for your business, for example converted a garage to a hairdresser

To find out if you should be paying business rates, contact the Valuation Office Agency GOV.UK/Contact VOA

What services do I receive in return for paying my business rates?

Your rates are not a payment for specific services but are a contribution from businesses towards all the services provided by the Council for the community, such as local transport, education and housing.

How is my rateable value calculated?

A property's rateable value is an assessment of the annual rent the property would rent for if it were available to let on the open market at a fixed valuation date. The rateable value is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency, which is an agency of HM Revenue and Customs.

If you have reason to believe that your 2017 rateable value is not correct, you will need to do the following:

  • CHECK - review and confirm the facts about your property held by the Valuation office. 
  • CHALLENGE - once the facts are established, explain why you believe your valuation is wrong.
  • APPEAL - if you don't agree with the VOA's decision after you've made a challenge, you have the right (in certain circumstances) to appeal their decision.

You can review your rateable value on the VOA's website  GOV.UK/check your business rates

Further guidance is available on the VOA's website    GOV.UK/guidance - check, challenge and appeal

I have appealed against my rateable value do I still have to pay?

Yes. Rates are payable based on the rateable value which appears in the current rating list and if you do not pay as shown on your bill, further action may be taken. If your appeal is successful and your rates are reduced, your bill will be recalculated and you would be entitled to a refund of any overpayment.

I have moved out of my business property - will I still have rates to pay?

You should inform the business rates team of your change in circumstances.

Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. In most cases, after this period rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. There are a number of exemptions from unoccupied rating. Further details can be obtained from the local authority.

When do I have to pay my business rates?

Payment of business rate bills is automatically set on a 10 monthly cycle. However, with effect from the 2014-15 financial year, the Government announced that businesses can ask for their business rate bills to be spread over 12 monthly instalments to help with cash flow. If you wish to take up this offer, you should contact the business rates section as soon as possible.

How can I make my business rates payments?

See our Pay your Business Rates page for more information.

How can I pay my business rates by direct debit?

You can download the direct debit form114.65KB or telephone the business rates team and we can set up your Direct Debit over the telephone.

Why have you sent me a reminder/summons for business rates?

By law, the Council must send a reminder if your instalments are not up to date. If you do not bring them up to date within seven days you can lose the right to pay by instalments and, after a further seven days, you will receive a summons to appear at court.

If you receive a summons and do not pay in full before the hearing the Council will apply for a liability order together with court costs. The liability order grants the Council the right to use various methods to recover the outstanding debt.

I've received a summons and want to pay my business rates. Why do I still have to pay the court costs?

Once a summons is issued you lose the right to pay by instalments and costs are incurred. The Council will not apply for a liability order if the full amount outstanding is paid before the Liability Order hearing. Even if a payment arrangement is made the Council still has to obtain the liability order, at which time further costs are incurred but it will not take any of the actions the liability order allows as long as you keep to the arrangements we have made with you.

I have received a rate bill which tells me I am in credit, how can I get a refund?

You can complete a refund application form here436.02KB


Contact the Business Rates Team on Telephone 0191  4244299 or e-mail

How would you rate the information on this page?

  • Business rates
  • Hawthorne
    Rolling Mill Road
    Viking Industrial Park
    Tyne & Wear
    United Kingdom
    NE32 3DP

  • 0191 424 4299

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