The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001, as amended, and the making of valuations for rating purposes is his sole responsibility. As Minister, I have no function in decisions in this regard.
In general, the Valuation Act 2001, as amended by the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015, maintains the long-standing position that properties, including private schools and private childcare facilities such as play schools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools, that are established for commercial purposes are liable for rates.
Schedule 3 of the Act outlines relevant property for rating unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4. Such exempt buildings would principally include those used for public worship, education and health care provided on a not-for-profit basis, and charitable purposes.
The Acts are quite specific about the range of exemptions that can be allowed by the Commissioner, who has no discretionary latitude to grant exemptions not covered by Schedule 4. I understand that as a matter of course, the Valuation Office examines all claimant cases on their individual merits by reference to the relevant statutory provisions.
Regarding the payment of rates by individual ratepayers, the Deputy will be aware that under Irish law there is a distinct separation of function between the valuation of rateable property and the setting and collection of commercial rates. The amount of rates payable by a ratepayer in any calendar year is a product of the valuation set by the Valuation Office multiplied by the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) decided annually by the elected members of the local authority. The latter is a reserved function of the elected members and the Commissioner of Valuation has no function in this regard.
There are a number of avenues of redress for an occupier of rateable property who is dissatisfied with a determination of valuation made under the provisions of the Valuation Acts 2001-2015. Firstly, before a determination is made, there is a right to make representations to the Valuation Office in relation to a proposed valuation. Later in the process, if the occupier is still dissatisfied with the determination, there is a right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal which is an independent body set up for the purpose of hearing appeals against determinations of the Valuation Office. There is also a right of appeal to the Higher Courts on a point of law.