Basis of Charge
Rates are one of Hong Kong's indirect taxes levied on properties. The revenue collected forms part of Government's general revenue.
Rates are charged at a percentage of the rateable value which is the estimated annual rental value of a property at a designated valuation reference date, assuming that the property was then vacant and to let.
For the Financial Year 2017-2018, the rates percentage charge is 5%. The designated valuation reference date is 1 October 2016 and the rateable values take effect from 1 April 2017.
Liability for Assessment
Generally, properties in all parts of Hong Kong are liable to be assessed to rates under the Rating Ordinance (Cap. 116). Altogether the 2017-2018 Valuation List includes about 2.48 million assessments comprising about 3.21 million units.
For details of the Rating Ordinance (Cap. 116), please refer to the Hong Kong e-Legislation at http://www.elegislation.gov.hk.
Who is Responsible for Payment
Both the owner and the occupier are liable for rates. In practice, this will depend on the terms of the agreement between the owner and occupier of the premises. In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, liability for rates rests with the occupier.
Basis of Assessment
Rateable value is an estimated annual rental value of a property at a designated valuation reference date, assuming that the property was then vacant and to let from year to year, on the basis that the tenant undertakes to pay all usual tenant’s rates and taxes, whilst the landlord undertakes to pay the Government rent, the costs of repairs and insurance and any other expenses necessary to maintain the tenement to a state to command that rent. The landlord’s obligation to bear the “the costs of repairs and other expenses necessary to maintain the tenement in a state to command that rent” implies that ordinary disrepair is disregarded in ascertaining the rateable value. However, serious disrepair which cannot be remedied or can only be remedied at an uneconomic cost should be taken into account.
In assessing the rateable value, reference is made to other open market rents agreed at or around the date of valuation, for similar properties in the locality, with due adjustments to reflect any differences in size, location, facilities, standards of finish and management. Restrictions on sale or letting, such as those that apply to Home Ownership Scheme flats, and the financial status of the ratepayer, will not be taken into account.
The rateable values of all types of properties, including private and public housing, are assessed on the same basis. This provides a fair and uniform base on which to charge rates in accordance with the open market rental values of properties.
The rateable values will be reviewed annually in the general revaluation so as to reflect more precisely changes in market rental values of properties. Rental levels for different types of properties and for properties in different locations change over time by varying amounts due to many factors, including economic, social and demographic changes. The purpose of a general revaluation of all properties is to redistribute the total rates liability fairly amongst ratepayers according to the prevailing rental levels of the properties they occupy. It is not intended to increase rates revenue.
For general reference, 2017-2018 rateable values for domestic units of different size ranges in selected residential developments are shown in the table.
Objections to Rateable Value
Under the Rating Ordinance
Under the Rating Ordinance, any aggrieved person can serve on the Commissioner of Rating and Valuation a "proposal" to alter an entry in a new Valuation List or an "objection" against a correction, deletion or addition to an existing Valuation List.
Following a general revaluation, a new Valuation List is declared by the Commissioner in the month of March and is made available for public inspection up to 31 May of the year the list comes into force. Any person who is aggrieved by an entry in the Valuation List may object to the new rateable value by submitting a "Proposal" in the specified form (Form R20A) on or before 31 May of the year. The person making the proposal must be aggrieved on one of the following grounds :
- that a tenement for which he is liable to pay rates has been valued above its proper rateable value;
- that a tenement included in a Valuation List ought to be omitted therefrom;
- that a tenement which ought to be included in a Valuation List has been omitted therefrom; or
- that a tenement included in a Valuation List has been valued below its proper rateable value.
Whenever the Commissioner issues a notice of alteration to a Valuation List by way of a correction, a deletion or an interim valuation, an aggrieved owner or occupier may, within 28 days, serve on the Commissioner a notice of objection in the specified form (Form R23A/B/C) stating fully the grounds of objection, i.e.:
- the proposed correction is wrong; or
- the tenement to be deleted ought not to be deleted; or
- the tenement which is subject to an interim valuation is valued above its proper rateable value or is not liable for assessment to rates.
Upon receiving a valid proposal, the Commissioner will review the assessment and may confirm or alter the entry in the Valuation List. The decision must be issued before 1 December of the year in which a new List comes into force. In the case of an objection, the Commissioner may confirm, vary or set aside the interim valuation, the deletion or the correction to the Valuation List after review. The Commissioner is required to issue decisions on the objections within 6 months after the expiration of the 28-day objection period.
Under the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance
The provisions in the Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Ordinance ("Rent Ordinance") regarding proposals to alter the Government Rent Roll, objections to correction, deletion or interim valuation against the decision of the Commissioner are similar to those provided under the Rating Ordinance, particularly with respect to those for a tenement which is not an "identical tenement".
If the tenement is an identical tenement (a tenement the entry for which in the Government Rent Roll is identical to an entry in the Valuation List for rates), a person may object to, or make a proposal on the rateable value of the tenement recorded in the Government Rent Roll only under the Rating Ordinance. The Commissioner is required to make the same alteration in the Government Rent Roll if he makes an alteration in the rateable value of an identical tenement included in the Valuation List.
For alterations, other than the rateable value, made in respect of an identical tenement in the Valuation List, the Commissioner may, having regard to the circumstances of the case, cause the same alterations to be made in respect of the identical tenement in the Government Rent Roll. If a tenement is deleted from the Valuation List, the tenement may still be included in the Government Rent Roll for Government rent purposes.
No Suspension of Payment upon Objection
Even if a proposal or an objection is lodged, rates and/or Government rent must be paid as demanded and late payments will be subject to a surcharge. If the rateable value is amended as a result of the proposal or objection, the alteration will be backdated to the relevant date the rateable value takes effect and adjustment to the rates and/or Government rent will be made in subsequent demands.
Service of Proposal / Notice of Objection
Proposal (Form R20A) and Notice of Objection (Form R23A/B/C) may be served by post or in person at the Department's Office. Members of the public may also submit their proposal (Form e-R20A) or objection (Form e-R23A/B/C) by using the "Electronic Submission of Forms" service provided at the Department's website. Service by fax is NOT acceptable.
A person on whom a Notice of Decision has been served may, if still unsatisfied with the Commissioner's decision on the proposal or objection, lodge an appeal with the Lands Tribunal within 28 days of the service of the Notice of Decision. A fee is payable on lodging the appeal.
Forms used for appeals and advice on appeal procedures may be obtained from the Lands Tribunal at:
Lands Tribunal Building
38 Gascoigne Road
Tel. No.: 2711 3034
Forms Available for Use
The forms mentioned above, Proposal and Notices of Objection, are available free of charge from the Department’s Enquiry Counter on 15th Floor of Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices at 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Home Affairs Enquiry Centres of Home Affairs Department, the Public Forms Section of the Department’s website or from the Department’s 24-hour Automated Telephone Enquiry Service by telephoning 2152 2152.
The current provisions for exemption from liability for rates take two forms. One is exemption from assessment to rates, whereby no assessment will appear in the Valuation List. The other is exemption from payment of rates, where an assessment is included in the Valuation List but is exempt from payment of the rates by administrative means.
The general rationale for granting rates exemptions can be divided into a number of broad categories: social (e.g. cemeteries and crematoria), administrative (e.g. premises below a prescribed rateable value), political (e.g. premises occupied by consulates and the military) and historical (e.g. certain village houses in the New Territories).
The statutory provisions under which tenements are exempted from assessment to rates are contained in Section 36(1) of the Rating Ordinance. Exemption from payments of rates is provided for by virtue of the Rating (Miscellaneous Exemptions) Order under Section 36(2) and (3) of the Rating Ordinance.
Questions and Answers
(Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions Section)
To Learn More about Rates
(Please refer to the Property Rates in Hong Kong)
Further Enquiry Telephone Numbers
|24-hour Automated Telephone Enquiry Service||2152 2152|
|24-hour Operator Service||2152 0111|