Covid-19 Waiver of Commercial Rates

The Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage has issued details of the Commercial Rates Waiver to be applied for the first, second and third quarters of 2021.


This nine-month waiver has modified criteria and accordingly is a separate, standalone waiver scheme from the scheme that applied in 2020. The nine-month waiver will apply to eligible businesses and will take the form of a credit in lieu of rates. The value of the waiver is the equivalent of 75% of the annual rate bill for 2021.


What do I as a ratepayer have to do to get this waiver?
An application to Waterford City and County Council is not required. 
 
The assessment for the waiver will be based on the valuation office categorisation of the rated premises (available online here). However, in the event that the actual usage or occupancy purpose of the premises is different to the use outlined on the valuation record, the actual usage/occupancy purpose will be used to determine eligibility for the waiver.


Excluded categories 
This credit in lieu of rates for the first, second and third quarters of 2021 does not apply to the following broad categories:

  • Public Service*
  • Vacant Properties (all vacant property as is ordinarily understood for rates is excluded from the waiver);*
  • Global Utility Networks on the Central Valuation List
  • Properties in the "Office" Valuation Category
  • Properties in the "Industrial Uses" Valuation Category
  • Properties in the "Miscellaneous" Valuation Category
  • Properties in the "Minerals" Valuation Category
  • Properties in the "Utility" Valuation Category
  • Supermarkets greater than 500M2 (Categories Supermarket 2 and Supermarket 3)
  • Properties with the valuation category of "Department Store" but which are occupied either partially or wholly by a supermarket which sells food and/or groceries.
  • Banks, Building Societies and Credit Unions
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Premises contracted to provide services related to the COVID 19 pandemic to/on behalf of the State, where the State is already compensating for rates as part of the contract between the occupier or service provider and the State.

A detailed list of excluded categories is shown here.


What if my business category does not reflect the business activity?
For example, an eligible business such as a gym may be located in a rated premises with an excluded business category , such as an Industrial unit. In each case we make best efforts to identify the actual business activity prior to our assessment for the waiver. We are informing businesses on an individual basis as to their waiver eligibility. If you feel that your business has been excluded from Q3 waiver due to incorrect classification, please contact us at covidrateswaiver@waterfordcouncil.ie, no later than midnight on the 15th of October 2021.


For Quarter 3 rates waiver - what if I am in the excluded category but have been severely impacted by the pandemic?
Businesses in the excluded categories may seek eligibility from Waterford City and County Council if it can be shown the business was severely impacted by the pandemic.  The process is as follows:
(i) If the business can provide evidence that they are receiving support under the CRSS then the waiver will be granted (subject to confirmation that funding is in place).
If the business cannot demonstrate (i) then:
(ii) The business will be asked to provide evidence and certify that the turnover from the relevant business activity in the claim period (1st April to 30th June) does not exceed 25% of the average weekly turnover in 2019 (or 2020 for new business).


Commercial Rates Charges

Why do we charge Commercial Rates?
Commercial Rates are a property-based source of income for local authorities. Rates are a statutory charge, the income from which is used to part-fund the annual revenue (day-to-day) expenditure of the local authority. Rates originated in the 19th century and are essentially a property tax on commercial premises.
There are currently three primary sources of local government financing which are universal amongst most countries. They are:

  • Central Government; Grants
  • Charges for Goods and Services and
  • Commercial Rates

Commercial Rates is one of the primary sources of Local Government funding and the income from Commercial Rates underpins the entire range of services provided by local authorities. Commercial Rates are payable in equal moieties, the first on receipt of the demand, and the second on 1st July each year. Revenue Collectors have responsibility for the collection of Commercial Rates in Waterford City & County Council.


How are Commercial Rates Calculated?
The Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) is the figure used to calculate the annual Commercial Rates payable by the Occupier of a rateable property each year. This figure is determined by the elected members of the Council at the annual budget meeting each year, based on the deficit between Council income and expenditure for the forthcoming year. For 2021, the Annual Rate on Valuation is 0.2648. The Annual Rate on Valuation figure is multiplied by the Valuation amount of the premises as determined by the Commissioner of Valuation.

For example:
If your property has been valued at 20,000.00 by the Valuation Office then your Commercial Rates bill for 2021 will be:
20,000.00 X 0.2648 (ARV for 2021) = €5,296.00.

Disclaimer: The Rates Calculation provided above gives you a sample rates liability for 2021.


How do I pay Commercial Rates?
Waterford City & County Council has the following payment methods available to our ratepayers:

Online
  • By Credit Card or Debit Card, you can pay your Commercial Rates online. Your PIN appears on your Rate Demand. If you need a PIN reminder, please contact us on 0761 10 2027 or 0761 10 2120 or if you need to access your PIN.
  • Electronic Transfer To complete an Electronic funds transfer to Waterford City & County Council please use the following account details: 

    IBAN: IE71 AIBK 9340 7022 2960 86
    BIC: AIBKIE2D
    Bank Name: Allied Irish Bank Plc, 3 TF Meagher Street, Dungarvan

Direct Debit
By direct debit, monies are deducted on the 15th day of each month to clear liability by 31st December of the given year. Please note that as it takes a number of days to set up a direct debit, forms will need to be with Waterford City & County Council on the first day of the month to activate the direct debit during this month. Click here for a Direct Debit mandate form.

Completed forms can be emailed to rates@waterfordcouncil.ie or posted to Commercial Rates Office, City Hall, The Mall, Waterford or Civic Offices, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.

By Post or in Person
Cheque /Postal Orders: Payable to Waterford City & County Council by post to Commercial Rates Office, Waterford City & County Council, City Hall, The Mall, Waterford or Civic Offices, Dungarvan.

In Person: Payable in our Cash Offices in Civic Offices, Dungarvan or Baileys, New Street, Waterford between the hours of 9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday. Please quote your Account and LAID numbers. (Do NOT send cash in the post.)

By Phone: Please contact the cash office at 0761 10 2020 with your card details between 9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday, to arrange this type of payment.


How to contact the Revenue Collector?
Donal Fitzpatrick      0761 10 2964 or email dfitzpatrick@waterfordcouncil.ie  (Waterford City)
Frank Walsh             0761 10 2965 or email fwalsh@waterfordcouncil.ie  (Waterford City)
Louise Casey    0761 10 2915 or email lcasey@waterfordcouncil.ie  (Tramore, Dunmore East, Passage East)
David Head         0761 10 2432 or email davidhead@waterfordcouncil.ie  (Dungarvan, Cappoquin, Lismore, Tallow)
Susan O’Brien           0761 10 2437 or email so'brien@waterfordcouncil.ie  (Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Portlaw, Bonmahon)


I have just opened a business. What rates do I pay?
This depends on whether it’s a newly constructed property or an existing rated property.
Newly constructed premises will require to be valued by the Valuation Office before Rates become payable. Waterford City & County Council will list newly constructed premises for valuation. This involves an inspection of the premises by one of the Valuation Offices qualified Valuers following which you will be notified of the proposed valuation. There is an appeal procedure should you wish to avail of it.

If you are taking over an existing rated property, then you will be liable for the existing Rates applicable to the premises. Extensive alterations will involve a revaluation. If you require information on the level of Rates applicable to that premises, you may contact the rates department for further information.


I am leasing a premises, who pays the Rates? The Owner or Myself?
The Occupier of a premises is legally liable for payment of Rates on the premises.


What do I do if my property is vacant?

Rates are payable on vacant premises, however application may be made for vacancy relief if the premises is vacant and available for let, or alternatively vacant for the purpose of carrying out repairs or alterations.

Vacancy Relief (vacant for a full calendar year)

Vacancy relief has been available as follows:

Prior to 2016: 100%
2016:   80%
2017-2019  55%
2020:  40%
40% vacancy relief is the maximum rate allowable from 2020 onwards with the remaining 60% of the rates liability payable on the property.

 

  • Partial Vacancy:

When a property is vacant for a partial year, relief is granted on a pro rata basis per month i.e. 1/12th of the annual vacancy relief applicable would be issued per month of vacancy.

  • Eligibility & Conditions:

Application is made on a Vacancy Application Form
All relevant back up documentation must be submitted with the application form.
All applications will be reviewed on an individual basis. Granting of relief will be contingent on adequate details being provided.


What happens if there is a Change of Occupant mid-year?
Owners of Commercial Properties are now obliged to notify the Local Authority, within 14 days of the transfer date, where there is a change in occupation of their property, i.e. when there is a change in tenancy or where a property is being sold, including where a property becomes vacant. The person transferring the property, either the owner or occupier are legally required to discharge all commercial rates for which he/she is liable at the date of transfer.

Owners must complete a Section 32 Form within 14 days of the change taking place. Owners who do not notify the local authority within 14 days will incur a financial penalty. This penalty is an amount equivalent to up to two years of outstanding rates from the previous occupier. Any penalty due and outstanding by an owner of relevant property due to non-notification will remain a charge on the property. The penalty charge is not affected by the subsequent payment of the outstanding rates and it remains payable even after the outstanding rates have been paid.

All ratepayers are reminded that they are legally required to pay all commercial rates due from them prior to their departure from a property or prior to the sale or transfer of an interest in a property.  Any rates due and outstanding by an owner of relevant property will remain a charge on the property.


What can I do if I am unhappy with the rates I am paying for my property?
The valuation of a property is determined by the Commissioner of Valuation (Valuation Office, Irish Life Centre, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1). No alteration can be made to the rates assessment of a ratepayer until such time as the valuation of a property is amended by the Commissioner of Valuation. A ratepayer of the Council can seek to have the valuation on a property revised. For further details you can contact the Valuation Office at 01 817 1000, email info@valoff.ie or log on to www.valoff.ie
 


What happens if I don’t pay my Rates?
Failure to pay your Rates by the specified period will result in legal proceedings being issued, followed by a Court Summons/Civil Proceedings. The Council may also register the debt as a judgement mortgage on a property.


What is a Set off on Account (contra-entry)?
A situation can arise whereby a Commercial Rates customer will also be a supplier of goods or services to Waterford City & County Council. Should a situation arise whereby Waterford City & County Council owes money to a Commercial Rates customer for goods supplied or services rendered and at the same time Commercial Rates are outstanding from that customer, the local authority reserves the right to apply a setoff (contra-entry) on account. This effectively allows for the payment of rates to be funded by way of amounts owing by the local authority to the rates customer. Section 58 of the Local Government Act 1941 facilitates this action.


What is Entry Year Property Levy?
The Entry Year Property Levy (PEL) is a charge which the local authority applies to newly erected or newly constructed properties pending the levying of commercial rates. It was introduced for the first time in 2008 under the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Act 2006, which was enacted on the 24th December 2006.

PEL is only charged in the year before the property becomes active in the Rate Book.


How is the Entry Year Property Levy Calculated?
The charge is calculated by reference to:
Rateable valuation on the property as determined by the Commissioner of Valuation.

  • The annual rate on valuation (ARV) as determined by the Council.
  • The date (entry date) the property is valued for rating purposes (i.e. entered in the valuation list).
  • The number of days from the effective valuation date to the end of the year

Making of the Rate
The notice attached is the Notice of the Making of the Rate 2021, which involves making the rate book available for inspection for a period of 14 days prior to the making of the rate. This notice was published on February 9th, 2021.