The Valuation Act, 2001, which came into effect on 2 May, 2002, provides that all buildings used or developed for any purpose including constructions affixed thereto are rateable unless expressly exempt under Schedule 4 of the Act.
Paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 of the Act provides only for the exemption from rates of a school, college, university, institute of technology or other educational institution which provide educational services
(i) which are not established and the affairs of it are not conducted for the purposes of making a private profit, or
(ii) the expenses incurred by it in providing the educational services concerned are defrayed wholly or mainly out of moneys provided by the Exchequer, and
(iii) in either case it makes the educational services concerned available to the general public (whether with or without a charge being made therefor).
Charitable organisations providing pre-school or childcare facilities which are used exclusively for charitable purposes and otherwise than for private profits are specifically excluded from liability for commercial rates by virtue of paragraph 16 of Schedule 4 of the Valuation Act 2001. However, the Act maintains the long-standing position that commercial facilities, including play schools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools, which are operated on a commercial for profit basis are liable for rates.
I have no plans to provide for special treatment of private pre-school or childcare facilities under the Valuation Act, 2001 or under the proposed amending legislation which provides that all buildings used for commercial enterprises are valued in a fair and equitable manner. Exceptions to this key principle would be quickly followed by demands for similar treatment from other interests which in equity would be difficult to resist. The process could thus substantially reduce local authority revenues, which if it were not to entail an increase in Exchequer funding of local authorities, would have to be made good by imposing a corresponding increase on the remaining ratepayers.