Local solicitors report surge in businesses seeking to reduce rates liability

Galway solicitors Purdy FitzGerald are reporting a surge in businesses seeking to reduce their rates liability. The action is promoted by upcoming local authority budgets which may include a commercial rates hike.

Norman FitzGerald, Managing Partner, Purdy FitzGerald said, “Recently we’ve noticed a significant increase in Galway businesses who are concerned about rising rates. With proper advice many businesses may be able to reduce their rates bills into the future.”

Rates charges are based on a property’s rateable valuation or ‘RV’ which is set by the Valuations Office. This figure is then multiplied by the local authority’s ‘annual rate on valuation’ to establish the rates for that premises. In a significant number of cases, there are anomalous RVs in the valuation lists.

This most often occurs where the RV’s have been set some years ago when the character and value of the property warranted a higher rateable valuation, but it can even apply with newly established RVs.

FitzGerald cites examples of city businesses located in what were state of the art newly constructed retail units in 1990 and now in need of repair and refurbishment. “Unless the owners of those properties have recently sought a revision of the rateable valuations, rates will be levied on those businesses on the basis of their high 1990 valuations rather than their true current valuations,” he said.

“Many businesses are unaware that they can have their rateable valuations revised by applying to the Valuations Office who will then appoint a valuer or Revision Officer to conduct a revision,” says FitzGerald whose firm has obtained significant reductions in rateable valuations for a number of Galway businesses. These have included clients with offices, retail units and a retail shopping centre.

“Once a proposed revision is concluded by the Revision Officer a draft of the revision is sent to the property owner who can make representations to the Revision Officer. There is also an appeals process to another officer within the Valuation Office and the opportunity for a further appeal to the Valuations Tribunal,” he said.

However as rateable valuations can be revised upwards as well as downwards, FitzGerald cautions that revisions should only be undertaken with the benefit of professional legal advice.

“In the current economic circumstances, hikes in commercial rates are a nail in the coffin of many businesses. Revision of RVs offers these businesses a unique opportunity to significantly reduce their tax liabilities and, as any decrease in RV holds good into the future, this means that the saving continues to accrue to the business year after year,” concluded Norman FitzGerald.

Norman FitzGerald has over 20 years experience of advising businesses on rateable valuations. He is the managing partner of Purdy FitzGerald, the only ISO9001 law firm in Galway and a firm dedicated to providing legal advice to business.

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