National Revaluation Project
All commercial and industrial property in Ireland is being revalued for the purposes of assessing rates. The process began in South Dublin County Council, continued in Fingal and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and is currently being carried out in the Dublin City Council area, with rates to be based on the estimated annual rental as of 28 October 2011.
The revaluation will lead to changes in your rates bill – some will benefit and some will see an increase. But as a charity should you have to pay? The law on the topic is complicated but there are three positive developments to be kept in mind, two in legislation and one as a result of a decision of the Appeals Tribunal, in which Mason Hayes & Curran acted for the successful appellant.
The Old Law
Until 2001, the test for rates exemption was very restrictive. Local authorities may still be operating on the basis of this, due to a combination of lack of awareness of the change and lack of challenges by charities.
First Positive Development
In 2001, a new test was introduced. In general, a Charitable Organisation (usually organisations having a CHY number) must simply occupy and use the property exclusively for charitable purposes otherwise than for profit.
Second Positive Development
In 2011, the revaluation process started. This means that one can challenge the amount of one’s revised rateable valuation and the very fact of being subject to rates. This is a one-off opportunity. If you are, or should be, exempt from rates and you do not appeal an assessment when you receive it now, then you lose the right to challenge it later.
Recent Case Law
In February 2012, the Tribunal granted exemption from rates to Active Retirement Network Ireland, whose main purposes are to encourage retired people to maintain their independence through joint activities and to create a positive attitude to ageing. The Tribunal confirmed that:
- the 2001 Act does not confine charitable organisations or charitable purposes to those that provide for the needs of the poor / disadvantaged; and
- (b) although office premises, the property was the administrative headquarters and as such enabled the various activities which the Appellant organised and promoted. It was accordingly determined that the property was exempt from rates.
Keep an eye out for your rates revaluation. The time limit for an appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation is 40 days from the issuing of the final valuation certificate by the Valuation Office.