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What happens if I don't pay my Business Rates?

 

Business Rates are payable by monthly instalments.  All annual bills show 10 instalments, each of which is due on the first of each month from April to January in the financial year. If you would prefer to pay your rates over 12 months, please contact the Council and we will arrange this.

It is for the ratepayer to ensure the Council receives payment on or before the due date for each instalment.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties and cannot afford to pay your Business Rates, you should contact us immediately, so that we can check to make sure you receive the discounts and reliefs to which you may be entitled.

Failure to pay the monthly instalments by the due dates will result in the following statutory procedures:

 

Instalment Notice

The Notice requires the instalments outstanding at the date of the notice to be paid in full.  The Notice also points out that failure to pay any future instalments by the due dates results in loss of the right to instalments at which point the full amount to the end of the financial year then becomes due and payable immediately.

 

Liability Order

If you do not contact us, or if you do not pay the full amount or you fail to keep to the agreed arrangement, the Council will apply to the Magistrates' Court in Southampton for a liability order against the account.

The application starts with the issue of a summons to appear before the Magistrates' on a specified date to show why the Business Rates have not been paid.

At the Court hearing, the Council will ask the Magistrates' to issue a liability order.  A liability order will be granted if the Magistrates' are satisfied that the debt is properly due under the law and has not been paid.  The Council will also ask the Magistrates' to award costs.

 

After the liability order has been issued

A liability order grants the Council further powers to collect any amounts outstanding.

However, provided an acceptable arrangement is agreed with the Council and payments are made; further recovery proceedings will be suspended.

 

Enforcement Agent

If no arrangement is made or the payments are not paid on time, the account will be issued to an enforcement agent, who will collect the money on our behalf.  Enforcement agents were previously known as bailiffs.

Once your account has been issued to the enforcement agent, you should make any payments directly to them. They may be willing to make a short-term payment arrangement with you. If you still do not make payment, or default on an arrangement made with the enforcement agent, the enforcement agent may remove goods from your property. The goods will then be sold to cover the balance outstanding and the enforcement agent's costs.

The Council's enforcement agent is:

            Ross and Roberts Ltd

            Unit 8 Wessex Park

            Bancombe Road Trading Estate

            Somerton

            Somerset

            TA11 6SB

            Tel:  0870 167 0707

            E-mail:  info@rossandroberts.co.uk

            www.rossandroberts.com

 

The Enforcement Agent process

1.    The enforcement agent administration stage is where the enforcement agent starts initial contact with the debtor. This results in an administration fee of £75 per liability order, but allows the debtor a period of notice to come to a payment arrangement.

2.    The next stage is the enforcement stage and involves visiting the debtor's property. This attracts a set fee of £235 to cover all work at enforcement stage plus a further percentage fee for debts over £1,500.

3.    If goods are seized, the sale of goods stage attracts further costs including fees to cover the removal of goods and the costs of re-selling them, plus a further percentage fee for debts above a certain value.

 

 

If the enforcement agent is unable to collect the amount due, the Council may begin insolvency proceedings to wind up your company or put you into bankruptcy.

As a last resort, the Council retains the right to commence committal proceedings, which could result in a term of imprisonment.

 

Bankruptcy / Liquidation

Where there is no other viable means of enforcing payment, the Council may commence proceedings for the bankruptcy of individuals (or the liquidation of a limited company). This will involve the ratepayer in substantial costs, even if payment is made before the proceedings have reached court.

 

Committal to Prison

The Ratepayer is summoned to appear at the Magistrates' Court.  The Court will establish the ratepayer's ability to pay.   If the Magistrates' find that there has been "wilful refusal" or "culpable neglect" the ratepayer  can be committed to Prison for a period of up to 90 days.  If the Ratepayer fails to appear at the hearing then an arrest warrant will instruct either the Police or the enforcement agent to find the ratepayer and ensure they appear in Court at a predetermined later date.

 

 

 

Updated: 20 Oct 2015
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