Non-payment of business rates
If you are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot afford to pay your business rates you should contact us immediately. We can check to make sure you are receiving the discounts and reliefs to which you may be entitled. After considering your circumstances we will try to make a suitable payment arrangement with you.
If you do not contact us and continue to fall behind with your payments, legal action will be taken against you. This will result in additional costs being added to your account. It is important that you let us know if you have difficulty in paying your business rates bill.
What happens if you don’t pay your Business Rates?
By law, the Council must send a Reminder Notice if your instalments are not up to date. If you do not bring them up to date within 14 days you may lose the right to pay by instalments. This will mean the total outstanding balance of your account will become due.
If you are sent a Final Notice this will demand that the total balance on your account is paid within 7 days. If you do not pay the amount requested, or if you do not contact us to make a suitable payment arrangement, you will be sent a Summons. The Summons require that you attend the Magistrates Court. This will result in court cost fees being added to your account - in addition to the business rates you owe.
Summons for non-payment
If you pay the full amount (including the costs) before the court hearing, the proceedings will stop.
If you receive a Summons and do not pay the full amount (including pre-hearing court costs), the Council will apply for a Liability Order.
This gives the Council further powers to recover the outstanding debt. If you cannot pay in full you must contact us; we may still be able to make a payment arrangement with you. If we can reach an agreement the matter will still go to court. No action will be taken on the Liability Order issued providing you pay as arranged. (The costs incurred will remain payable, but these will be included in the arrangement).
Do you have to attend court?
You do not need to attend court. However, if you do not attend and you have not contacted the office regarding the Summons, the case may be dealt with in your absence.
If you attend court will your financial circumstances or any other grievances be taken into account?
The court is only concerned with establishing that the correct process of advising you of your liability has been followed and that you have not paid. Associated matters such as your financial position or an unresolved dispute with the Valuation Officer have no bearing upon the proceedings. It is important that you discuss any points of concern with us before the court hearing.
What happens if the court grants a Liability Order?
Once a Liability Order is granted the Council can employ Enforcement Agents to collect the debt. This will result in you having to pay additional fees, which have been set by central government:
- Fee at 'Compliance' stage £75 (a written notice will be sent by the Enforcement Agent)
- Fee at 'Enforcement' stage £235 (plus percentage fee 7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500)
- Fee at 'Sale' stage £110 (plus percentage fee 7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500)
What if you are still unable or unwilling to pay?
The Council may commence bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings against you or your company. The Council may also consider making an application to the Magistrates for your committal to prison for non-payment. We will only take these steps when other efforts have failed and when Enforcement Agents have been unsuccessful.
What happens if you receive a Notice of Impending Bankruptcy or Liquidation, or a Means Enquiry Summons?
These are very serious matters and you should contact the Business Rates team immediately to discuss your account. Failure to do so will result in further action being taken which will incur you considerable costs, and could result in a term of imprisonment.