The Government has decided to delay its plans to revalue, for council tax purposes, every home in England until after the next General Election, due in 2010.
But that is the same year in which businesses have their last chance to appeal against their new rating valuations. Delays might prove costly, according to a local expert.
David Evans, who heads up the rating department in the West Midlands Office of property consultancy King Sturge, said: "2010 is a long way away - but my advice to all business ratepayers is to act now. Don't wait for the deadline - register your appeal now."
Five years ago, following the 2000 revaluation, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) received well over half-amillion appeals in the first six months, yet only about 132,000 appeals have been initiated against the new rating valuations, which came into effect in April of this year.
Birmingham- based Mr Evans said that the reason for the drop in rating appeals to date appeared to be the introduction of new rules.
"Businesses only had six months in which to appeal following the 2000 revaluation if they wanted to ensure that any reduction would lead to a full refund of overpaid rates.
"Now the Government has decided to remove the time limits, allowing the 2005 assessments to be challenged at any time until the end of March 2010. And any refunds will be fully backdated."
However, at the moment there are only about 100,000 appeals remaining to be settled from the 2000 rating list. So before the end of the year, the VOA should be in a position to start discussing the 2005 appeals that have been made.
"I am sure the vast majority of businesses would prefer to get their appeals dealt with as speedily as possible. By acting now, they can get to the front of what will be a very long queue as more and more businesses finally get to grips with the revaluation challenge," said Mr Evans.
He also urged businesses to seek professional advice from qualified rating surveyors before submitting any official challenge - and he warned businesses not to expect an automatic reduction in their assessments simply as a result of submitting an appeal.
"You must make sure that every piece of required information is provided to the VOA. Even the slightest slip-up, or mistake, can result in an appeal being rejected as invalid - and that could prove very costly to any business," he said.