Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Acts 2001 to 2015. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Acts and the making of valuations for rating is his sole responsibility. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has no function in decisions made in this regard. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.
The Commissioner for Valuation has responsibility for valuation matters, including the revaluation of properties. The Valuation Acts provide for the revaluation of all rateable property within a rating authority area so as to reflect changes in value due to economic factors such as business turnover, differential movements in property values or other external factors and changes in the local business environment. This is a welcome and positive development which is long overdue and on which considerable progress has been made in recent years. Having a modern valuation base is very important for the levying of commercial rates on a fair and equitable basis across all economic sectors.
The general outcome of the revaluations conducted to date by the Valuation Office has been that about 60% of ratepayers have had their liability for rates reduced following a revaluation and about 40% have had an increase, a pattern which is expected to be replicated elsewhere as the revaluation programme advances.
Commercial rates form an important element of the funding of all local authorities. The principle of local authorities levying rates based on an independent valuation is well established and I have no plans to change this. However, the legislative basis for the levying of rates is spread over a number of enactments, some dating back to the 19th century. My Department has developed legislative proposals to modernise and consolidate the legislation governing commercial rates. In this regard, the Government last year approved the drafting of a Rates Bill. The General Scheme of the Bill is currently with the Attorney General’s office for drafting, with a view to its introduction as soon as possible.