New regulations introduced in last year’s Autumn Statement mean that firms appealing against decisions on business rates refunds must do so by 31 March or face losing out. In fact, it is calculated that businesses across the UK that fail to claim in time could miss out on millions of pounds.
Business owners are furious that the deadline was ‘lost in the small print ‘of the adjustment to the Rating List regulations and many are still unaware that they must act quickly if they are to get any money back.
Currently the Rating List allows businesses to claim back money owed to them over the past seven years but the adjustment will stop them claiming refunds beyond two years from March 31, meaning that up to £20m of refunds could be unclaimed.
Critics have complained that no attention was drawn to the new date and its importance to businesses across the UK, which will mean that those who fail to appeal in time will be unable to claim for refunds to business rates paid between 2010 and 2015.
In fact, they argue that the Government has not even explained why the decision was made but believe it was designed to curtail the ability of businesses to appeal to the Valuation Office (VO), which sets the rates. However, on the flip side, they also fear that publication of the date will cause a flood of appeals to the VO, which has only recently cleared a backlog of appeals made before September 2013.
In effect, the move closes the door on businesses where bills could have been incorrectly calculated and the firms already struggling to manage overheads might have substantially overpaid, so anyone who thinks they might be owed refunds should seek professional help before it is too late.