Non-payment of business rates
Our recovery procedures are outlined below:
Current year bill
If you miss a payment instalment, we will send you a reminder notice giving you seven days to bring your payments up to date.
If you do not make the payment within the time allowed, we will issue you with a final notice cancelling your right to pay by instalments and requiring you to pay the outstanding balance in full.
The final notice will explain that if you do not pay the full amount, this may lead to legal proceedings in the Magistrates' Court for a liability order including legal costs. At this stage, if you take the opportunity to set up a direct debit instruction, we may agree to collect the outstanding balance by direct debit, reinstate the monthly instalment facility and 'withdraw' the final notice.
If you do not pay the final notice or you do not set up the direct debit, the next document issued is a Magistrates' Court summons. The summons is prepared and sent by us on behalf of the Court and will show the name of the court, the date and time of the hearing and the amount we are seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of business rates plus the costs incurred by us for making the application. From April 2016 our summons costs are £50.00 with £20.00 liability order costs, making a total of £70.00.
You do not have to attend the hearing for a liability order to be made as the case can be dealt with in your absence.
If you agree to pay the outstanding balance but cannot pay the full amount before the court hearing date, it may be possible to agree a special payment arrangement. Any such special arrangement will be subject to the liability order, including costs, being obtained by us; however, no enforcement action will be taken under the liability order provided the special arrangement is maintained.
Unless the summons is fully paid before the day of the court hearing, or one of the few valid legal defences as to why payment has not been made applies, a liability order will be granted by the magistrates, including costs payable to the council.
A liability order for unpaid business rates gives us several powers to enforce payment. The most commonly used method is the use of enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) to remove goods belonging to you which are then sold at auction to clear the debt. You will be charged fees by the enforcement agent.
If the enforcement agent cannot find any or sufficient goods to remove and sell, for sole traders we may consider applying to the Magistrates' Court for committal to prison for up to 3 months. Committal to prison action cannot be taken against limited companies but we can apply to the Official Receiver for the company to be placed into liquidation.
Previous year’s bill
If a bill for the previous financial year there is usually only one instalment payment date and this must be at least 14 days after the bill is issued. If we do not receive full payment on or before the due date, we will issue a reminder notice showing the overdue amount and requiring payment within 7 days.
The reminder notice will explain that if you do not pay the full amount, this may lead to legal proceedings in the Magistrates' Court for a liability order, including legal costs. At this stage, if you take the opportunity to set up a direct debit instruction, we may agree to collect the outstanding balance by direct debit and 'withdraw' the reminder notice.
If you do not pay the reminder notice or the direct debit option is not agreed at this stage, the next document issued will be a Magistrates' Court summons. The process from here mirrors that for the current year bill.
We are happy to provide advice on business rates matters and, where relevant, one of our inspector/visiting officers can arrange a site visit.
Having difficulties paying your business rates?
We try to balance our duty to collect business rates on behalf of the Welsh Government, with a sympathetic approach.
In exceptional circumstances, we may agree special payment arrangements, over and above the statutory instalment scheme, for businesses struggling to pay their business rates. Please contact us as early as possible to maximise the amount of help we can give you.