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Unpleasant email from local council re business rates

I have recived an unpleasant email from the local council saying they have been "informed" I have a business at my home address, and to give them details such as what part of the premises is used for the business. I practice as an accountant from home and assume they are trying to get me to pay business rates. Has any one had experience of dealing with this issue and what should I be aware of? Should I say I just use a small part of the home or say that there is no specific part used (kitchen table, dining room, using laptop?)  Also I don't do all my work at home but go to clients' premises.


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02nd Jan 2013 13:17

VOA guidance

Have a look at the guidance & examples here:- 

Example 5 might apply in your case:-

Our assessment: Rateability will not arise unless equipment of a non-domestic sort is installed or the property is physically adapted for the business use. This is because the character of the room remains as domestic living accommodation, and the purposes of living accommodation may include recreational and leisure use and work. Also the taxpayer uses furniture and equipment of the kinds that are commonly found in domestic property.


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By stt
02nd Jan 2013 14:29

I posted about this previously and would be interested how you get on.

However, it's possible they were not told the nature of your business, and so have sent you a standard email (I'm surprised it's an email and not a letter?).

Many 'services' professionals work from home, and I expect hardly any (or none) pay business rates as usually the house needs no conversion and retains its domestic charachter.

If you are really worried, you could get a rates professional (surveyor?) to help you draft a reply.

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By neileg
02nd Jan 2013 17:14

I agree with stt

I work in local government and although we use email extensively I too am surprised that an enquiry of this nature started with an email and not a posted letter.

Ultimately, it's the VOA that makes the decision so you have nothing to loose by authenticating this email with the council.

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02nd Jan 2013 17:47

business rates

There is a tax case regarding an HMRC employee who worked at home, and was to be charged business rates. When the case came before the Tribunal the imposition was cancelled.

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03rd Jan 2013 12:54

Local bureaucrats

We bought an old post office which is officially designated as a shop but used as a flat for the last 18 years.

North Somerset planning website was unclear on usage as office or business from home and we would have had to pay £40 for a non-binding opinion or around £175 for a binding opinion. As it is on the main road we put up a sign outside that falls within advertising regs (we read them) and were 90% certain we were ok.

A couple of months later Parish council complained to planning dept that we were running a business without planning permission (apparently they targetted 3 other premises in the village too but never approached us directly).

Planning chap came out FOC and was really helpful (and also discussed other modifications we are planning in the future). He agreed we were a business from home so no change of use required but, as such, we couldn't have the sign OR we could apply for change of use to business and then have the sign.

To be on the safe side we got planning permission which was no bother although we had to prepare scale plans and drawings of facade etc which was a pain. Fortunately one of our local councillors was also the structural surveyor who dealt with us over some internal building work (subject to building regs not planning permission). Although he couldn't vote he guided us through the system as he was in out out of our home/office working with our builders.

We relaxed until the change of use triggered visit from rating valuation office (VOA) who agreed it was a business from home 5/7 days and the rest was private so no business rates due. Again they were very helpful.

Anyway, we are now legit but a free enquiry service at local planning office would have saved us a lot of anxiety as we wanted to get things right from the start. I was also a bit peeved that parish council didn't make a nice preliminary enquiry or "welcome to the village" visit themselves. At least that didn't stop them asking the business to contribute a raffle prize to the local over 60s party a month later.

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04th Jan 2013 12:20


We had a letter many years ago when I worked from phone - phoned them - explained that we also used the room for personal use - and they agreed no Business rate due.

You would probably get small business rates relief anyway but best to get it agreed as not due in the first place.


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04th Jan 2013 15:02

Nasty email from local council

Many thanks for all your help. I will decide over the weekend what to do and draft an apropriate repl.

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