Business rates debt recovery - what happens if I do not pay on time?
If you do not pay an instalment on time you will be sent a reminder notice. If you pay the arrears on the reminder within seven days your instalment will continue as scheduled. If you do not comply with the reminder notice, a summons will be issued without further notice and costs will be incurred.
Please try to pay your instalments on time as each reminder notice counts against you.
If you have had a reminder
If you have been sent a reminder in one year and fail to pay a subsequent instalment on time, you will lose your right to pay by instalments. This will happen even if you have complied with the reminder and paid the overdue instalment within seven days. If you lose your right to pay by instalments you will be sent a final notice requesting payment, in one lump sum, of the year's outstanding Business Rates.
What happens if I don't pay the amount on the final notice?
If you don't pay the amount due within seven days of being sent a final notice, a summons will be issued.
If you get a summons
The summons will give you at least two weeks' notice that you are to appear before the Justices at a magistrates' Court to explain why you have not paid your Business Rates. The summons will carry costs of £65. If you pay the amount in full, including the costs, before the court hearing, the proceedings will be withdrawn.
If it goes to court
It is your right to appear in court and tell the magistrates why you feel you should not pay Business Rates. However, the magistrates at the hearing will not be able to consider your failure to pay the Business Rates because you have not got the means to pay it.
At the court hearing the Council will apply for a Liability Order plus costs of £25, in addition to the summons costs of £65. If granted, the magistrates will have decided that you are liable to pay Business Rates. The Liability Order enables the Council to recover the money in a number of ways.
Can I pay the arrears by agreeing a payment plan?
We will consider any offer to repay your arrears. However, this will normally include any summons and Liability Order costs, if applicable. A Liability Order will also be sought as security against you defaulting on the payments. If you agree to a payment plan you must make the payments on time, otherwise further recovery action will take place.
What happens if a Liability Order is granted against me?
The Council will send you a notice informing you that the Justices at the magistrates' court have granted a Liability Order.
What powers does the Council have to enforce the Liability Order?
The method most commonly used to enforce the Liability Order is bailiff action. Bailiffs will themselves endeavour to make a payment plan with you but can and will remove goods in certain cases.
What about bailiffs?
The bailiffs employed by this Council work to an agreed code of practice. If a bailiff calls on you and you have not paid or are unable to pay the amount outstanding in full, including the Council's and the bailiff's costs, you will still be able to make a payment plan to clear the debt. The bailiff will ask to enter your premises to make a list of goods. If you fail to honour the payment plan the bailiff could return later to remove and sell your goods. At this stage, further costs will be incurred for the removal of the goods, auctioneers' fees and the cost of storage.
If the bailiff calls and you fail to make contact, or if you have insufficient goods which can be removed, the bailiff will return the Liability Order to the Council for further enforcement action.
Prison - the last resort
If you are not a Company and the aforementioned options fail then a summons may be issued requiring you to attend a committal hearing in a magistrates' court. The Justices will carry out an examination into your conduct and means. If they consider that the money should have been paid, a warrant of commitment may be issued placing you in prison for up to three months. This further action will involve additional costs.
What to think about at every stage
If you are having difficulty in paying your Business Rates, get in touch with the Council immediately. Remember we will always try to make a payment plan with you, but we will not agree to payments which leave you falling further behind into even more arrears.
If you pay by Direct Debit, you save time, money and you do not run the risk of falling behind as payments are made for you by your bank or building society. You can choose the 1st or 15th of the month, whichever suits you better.
Help us and we will make every effort to help you!