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How Business Rates works

How your business rates are worked out

You will have to pay business rates if you own, lease or occupy a building, or part of a building, for non-domestic purposes, like a shop or office.

Your business rates bill is calculated by us. We will send you a bill for the next tax year in March.

If the charge changes for any reason, we will send you a revised bill.

You can get an estimate of your business rates by using the estimator tool on GOV.UK Exact rates will be on your bill.

You can check your business rates account online if you have already signed up for this service; or sign up now to check your account online.

Who does what

  • The Valuation Office Agency sets the rateable value on which your rates are based. 
  • The government sets the multiplier and makes national rules about business rates.
  • We calculate your bill and collect business rates.

Rateable Values and Multipliers

Rateable Values

Your business rates are worked out based on your property’s ‘rateable value’.

The rateable value is an assessment of the annual rent, based on an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency.

You can estimate your business rates by multiplying the rateable value by the correct ‘multiplier’. (This is an amount set by central government).


The multiplier is used to calculate your bill. For every hereditament (property and/or land) the basic bill is calculated by multiplying the rateable value by the multiplier.

In 2005, when small business rates relief (SBRR) was introduced a small business multiplier was created. The small business multiplier is applied to a bill instead of the standard multiplier if the occupier:

  • qualifies for small business rate relief or
  • has a rateable value below a limit stated in the small business rates legislation

The multiplier is set annually by the Secretary of State, it is linked to the increase in the retail price index. The multiplier is expressed to three decimal places only. 

Business Rates Multipliers









Small Business Multiplier








Standard Multiplier









From April 2024 the small business multiplier will by default apply to all RVs under £51k. This includes charities and unoccupied properties which are currently charged at the higher multiplier.


The Valuation Office Agency will update the rateable values of all non-domestic properties. This is called a revaluation.

Rateable values are the amount of rent a property could have been let for on a set valuation date. For the 2023 valuation that’s 1 April 2021. We use these rateable values to calculate business rate bills.

Revaluations are done to reflect changes in the property market. This means that business rates bills are based on more up-to date information. The next revaluation is proposed to come into effect on 1 April 2026.

Tell the Valuation Office Agency

The council is responsible for the billing and collection of business rates. However, the Valuation Office Agency is responsible for the valuation of your property. You will need to contact the Valuation Office Agency for all queries about your rateable value.

If you think your rateable value is too high – from 1 April 2023 you need to use a business rates valuation account to tell the Valuation Office Agency. You must continue to pay your business rates as normal until they have made a decision.

You are generally able to challenge your property valuation on the 2023 list at any time until March 2026.

Check, challenge and appeal your rateable value

You can check, challenge and appeal your rateable value through the Valuation Office Agency.


The ‘rateable value’ is set by Valuation Office Agency, not us.

You can:

  • check the rateable value for your property
  • request changes to details if you think they are wrong
  • view the valuation details of other properties

Correct your business rates


If you don’t agree with the outcome of a check, you can:

  • challenge the rateable value
  • request that a property is taken out of the rating list


Following a challenge, if you are still not satisfied you can appeal free of charge.

To appeal:

  • give clear reasons for your appeal
  • include the address and postcode of properties you’re comparing with.

Read guidance on how to challenge and appeal

Rating advisers

You do not have to be represented in discussions with the Valuation Office Agency about your rateable value. Appeals against rateable values are free of charge. However, if you want to be represented, you may wish to contact the:

Both are qualified and regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public.

It is important to be wary of any agency that demands a large upfront fee or a large percentage commission fee. This is because an appeal to the Valuation Office Agency and or any relief application to local authorities are free. If you are contacted by an agent about making a relief application on your behalf, always check with us first as you can make an application to us for free.

Always read the small print on any contract.

Changes that affect your Business Rates

The rateable value may change if any physical or material changes are made to your property. (For example, building or demolishing an extension.) 

You must report changes to us immediately

Report a change

If you’re the owner or the ratepayer of the business premises, you can check and challenge the rateable value of your property.

Check and challenge the rateable value of your property

Liability and rateable occupation 

The owner of a hereditament (property and/or land) is defined to be the ‘person entitled to possession’ and this includes leaseholders.

Joint and Several Liability

Where there is:

  • more than one occupier of a hereditament or
  • more than one owner of the whole of an unoccupied property

they are jointly and severally liable to pay the Business Rate charges. Payments may be enforced against all or any parties that are joint and severally liable for the charges payable.

The principles of rateable occupation

A person or company is responsible to pay Business Rates of an occupied property and/or land, if they are in occupation of all or part of it.

  • Actual Occupation

‘Actual Occupation’ concerns the physical use of hereditament, no matter how slight that use may be.

  • Exclusive Occupation

The second ingredient of rateable occupation that must be satisfied is ‘Exclusive Occupation’. Use of the hereditament is not shared and the occupier can restrict or exclude the right of others to use the premises in the same way.

  • Beneficial Occupation

‘Beneficial Occupation’ must be of some value to the occupier – not necessarily of a financial nature.

  • Non –Transient Occupation

Occupation of a transient nature sometimes gives rise to rate liability and sometimes does not. Transient occupation does not relate to short occupations of established properties (hereditament). These generate liability on a daily basis. Transient occupation refers to the time for which a hereditament exists.

Seasonal Occupation

A business that is only open for part of the year will be liable for Business Rates all year round. The Valuation Office Agency may consider the seasonal nature of the business when setting the rateable value.

You would not receive empty rate relief, as the property would continue to be rateable throughout the whole of the period.

Understanding your Business Rates bill

If you would like help understanding your Business Rates bill, there is lots of useful information on our ‘understanding your Business Rates bill’ webpage.

Understanding your Business Rates bill

Your feedback

We aim to provide our customers with good services, but sometimes things go wrong.  When this happens, we want you to tell us so that we can put these things right.

Cornwall Council has a two-stage complaints feedback process.

Complaints feedback process

If we haven’t responded to either your Stage 1 or Stage 2 Council Tax complaint within 12 weeks, you can complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).

You should ensure that any complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

  • is made within a year of you knowing about the problem, and
  • specifies how the issue affected you personally or caused an injustice

Local Governement Ombudsman website

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
53 – 55 Butts Road
Coventry CV1 3BH

Tel: 0300 061 0614

Our Corporate Feedback Policy explains how we deal with complaints. It also covers other types of feedback like comments, suggestions and compliments.

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