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What happens if you don't pay your business rates

If you have problems paying your business rates, you can contact us to see how we can help you. To help manage your business rates, you can sign up and view you business rates account online. The following information explains the recovery actions about the non-payment of business rates.

Recovery process

We will collect the business rates we are owed.

We must receive your payments on or before the due date shown on your bill. If payment is not made, the recovery process will begin as follows

  1. Reminder

    You will receive reminders each time you are late.

    If you receive a reminder, this is because:

    • our records show you have not made your monthly payment as shown on your business rates bill
    • you have paid late or not paid the full amount

    If you have forgotten to pay, you should pay the outstanding amount immediately.

  2. Final notice

    If you do not pay after our reminders, you will receive a final notice. This means you have lost the right to pay in monthly instalments. You will have to pay the full amount of your remaining business rates for the year.

    If you are unable to pay the full balance, contact us as soon as possible to discuss an alternative payment arrangement.

  3. Summons

    We will issue a summons if you do not pay your outstanding business rates following a final notice. Once we issue a summons, you have lost your right to pay business rates by instalment. You must pay the whole outstanding balance, including our costs in issuing the summons, immediately.

    If the full balance, including the costs, is paid before the court hearing, no further action will be taken.

    If you are having difficulties paying your business rates, contact us.

  4. Attending court

    If the full amount, now including costs, is not paid before the hearing date, we will ask the magistrate to grant a liability order.

    You can attend court if you want to, but the court is not able to consider your financial situation or discuss payment with you. You only need to appear if you have a legal defence. You can also appear if you wish to explain to the magistrate why you feel that you do not have to pay.

    Legal defences against the issue of a liability order

    1. The defendant did not occupy the premises.
    2. The defendant did not occupy the premises during the period charged for.
    3. The amount demanded has been paid.
    4. More than 6 years have passed since the day on which the sum became due.
    5. The bankruptcy proceedings have commenced.
  5. Liability order

    The summons will set out a court hearing time when the magistrate will issue a liability order for non-payment. A liability order gives us powers to collect the debt owed to us. The order is for a fixed amount of money, plus costs. Both of these amounts are payable immediately.

    A liability order allows us to take other legal actions to recover the money you owe us such as:

    • referring your account to an enforcement agency
    • applying for your bankruptcy/liquidation
    • applying for you to go to prison

    If you make a special arrangement with us and stick to it, none of the actions detailed above will be taken against you.

    If you fail to maintain your special arrangement, we'll start recovery proceedings.

  6. Enforcement agent

    If we decide to use an enforcement agent to recover unpaid debt, they will contact you to let you know they are collecting business rates on our behalf. You can no longer arrange payment with us.

    Their fees will be added to your bill, and you will have to contact the enforcement agent company to pay them.

    If you do not contact the enforcement agent, they may remove your possessions and sell them to pay off your debt. This will again lead to further costs to your bill. They will continue collection until the business rates debt and costs have been paid in full.

    Enforcement agent fees

    There are fixed fees that an enforcement agent can charge you when collecting a council tax debt.

    • Compliance fee: £75

    This is due as soon as the council passes an unpaid account to the agent for collection. This fee is payable for each liability order.

    • Enforcement fee: £235

    This is due if you do not make an arrangement to pay. This is also due if you do not pay the enforcement agent as arranged and they ave to pay you a visit. This is a one-off fee regardless of the number of outstanding liability orders.

    • Sale or disposal fee: A least £110

    This is due if your case reaches this stage.

    • A further 7.5% fee will be added to any extra amount above £1,500, excluding fees. This is only paid at enforcement and/or sale and disposal stages
  7. Bankruptcy

    Bankruptcy is a declaration to your creditors that you cannot afford to repay your debt.

    We may start bankruptcy proceedings against you:

    • if you or your company owe more than £5,000 in business rates
    • if you have been summoned

    If we take this action, our solicitors will send you a statutory demand. A statutory demand gives you 21 days to pay us the full amount. If you receive a statutory demand, you should contact our solicitors immediately. If you do not pay, we will present a petition for bankruptcy or liquidation to the county court. The county court can then declare your bankruptcy.

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