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Business rates is the commonly used term for non-domestic property rates. Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises, including most commercial properties such as shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. Some properties are eligible for discounts from the local council on their business rates. This is called non-domestic property rates relief or business rates relief.
In Scotland, there are a number of reliefs available including Small Business Bonus Scheme, reliefs for empty or newly re-occupied properties and charitable rate relief. Businesses need to apply to their local council for relief.
Business rates relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) scheme is available if the combined rateable value of all business premises is £35,000 or less, if the rateable value of individual premises is £18,000 or less and the property is actively occupied.
Empty properties in Scotland can receive 50% rates relief for the first 3 months they are empty. They can then claim a further 10% discount.
Empty industrial properties can qualify for 100% relief from non-domestic rates for the first 6 months that they are empty. They can then claim a further 10% discount. It is also possible, under certain circumstances, to receive 100% relief for the time a property is unoccupied, for example, if it is a listed building.
Registered charities in Scotland can apply for 80% rates relief. This only applies if their property is mostly used for charitable purposes. Certain councils may also offer up to 20% additional relief on top of the 80%, meaning that no rates would be payable. There are similar provisions for registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs.
Rates reliefs are handled differently in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.