HMRC has denied accusations that The Valuation Office Agency’s business rate appeal process is failing business owners, despite complaints from retailers and industry experts such as the CVS and Montagu Evans.
The VOA both sets business rates and processes appeals, with a new online appeal system brought in simultaneously to the April rates re-evaluations which saw some independent retailers hit by increases over 100%.
A HMRC spokesperson told Retail Express, “The new online check and challenge service is working normally,” adding that despite recent claims of a two year appeals delay, they “expect the majority of cases to be concluded within a few months.”
Richard Wackett, lead partner at Montagu Evans previously described the online process as “very difficult to operate,” giving “a massive advantage to a heavily resourced retailer.”
HMRC hit back at these criticisms commenting, “The new online check and challenge service is built around customer feedback, and is designed to be as straightforward as possible for ratepayers to use.” The spokesperson said more features will be added to the site later this year.
When asked about the CVS research that showed a sharp drop in appeals registered per month, the government spokesperson admitted, "As with any new online system, teething problems are to be expected," but said the service is now working normally.
Though the new online tool is specifically for stores in England, stores in other areas have also reported delays due to technical issues, with one owner of two stores in north Wales, Elfed Roberts stating to Retail Express that he's been told it will take 12-18 months to resolve his case.
Colliers International help businesses with valuations and appeals. Their head of rating, John Webber, described HMRC's response stating, “Government is passing our enquiries from one place to the next and we have grave doubts the new appeals system is ready for market yet."
Do it: Read our advice on appealing your rates or receiving rates relief