You will normally receive your annual non domestic rates bill in March. It will tell you the amount you have to pay and how that amount has been worked out. The bill will also set out the amount of each instalment and the dates on which each one should be paid. Normally, you will be offered ten instalments, although that number will be reduced if the bill is issued after the end of April.
From the 1 April you will have to pay your non domestic rates instalments on the 1st of the month from April through to January inclusive, unless you pay by direct debit when you can pay on the 5th, 15th or 30th of the month.
If you pay by direct debit you do not need to contact the council when you receive your bill about confirming your payment date. If you do not currently pay by direct debit and wish to pay by this method please contact the business rates section on 01773 841444 to set up your direct debit over the telephone or see related documents for an application form.
Payment can be made at our offices in Ripley, or using the automatic telephone payments line on 0845 3723801. This call will cost you 3 pence per minute plus your phone company's access charge.
Payments can also be made online via our make a payment page.
If you think the bill is wrong in any way you should tell the council immediately. Unless you make other arrangements with the council, you must continue to pay the amounts set out in your original bill until you are sent a revised bill.
If the amount of non domestic rates you have to pay changes during the year, perhaps because your entitlement to an exemption or rate relief changes, you will get a new bill. This will tell you what the new amount for the year is, and what instalments you now have to pay.
As soon as you realise you have a problem paying your bill you should talk to the council; as you may be entitled to a reduction in your bill, for example, through small business rate relief. The council may also be able to help you by rescheduling your payments. But do not ignore the bill completely; if you do not pay it and fail to agree in writing any other arrangement with the council, they will take recovery action, which could increase considerably the amount you have to pay.
If you miss a non domestic rates instalment you will get a reminder notice giving you seven days to bring your non domestic rates payments up to date. If you do not do so within the time, or if after a second reminder you fall behind with your payments again, you will have to pay the outstanding balance of your non domestic rates bill (i.e. the full amount for the rest of the year). If the balance is not paid, the council will probably start recovery action.
The council can apply to the magistrates' court for a liability order. You will be sent a summons telling you when the court will consider the application and the amount the council is seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of non domestic rates plus the cost to the council of making the application. You have the right to attend the court and offer evidence as to why the order should not be made.
Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to the council or, if you prefer, you're local Citizens Advice Bureau. The council will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment but they cannot do that unless you contact them. If you make an arrangement and stick to it, you will avoid any further recovery costs.
If the court grants a liability order, the council then has further options to recover the outstanding debt. The options for recovery are as follows:
The council can employ enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs) to recover the debt – during this process the agents will try to take control of goods, ultimately they can remove and sell them. The charges involved are set out in legislation - they can be quite considerable and you will be held liable for them. It is advisable to avoid matters reaching this stage if you can.
|Enforcement||£235||7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500|
|Sale||£110||7.5% on excess of debts over £1,500|
The compliance fee will be payable the moment a liability order is referred to an enforcement agent and the enforcement fee will be due on their first visit. If you are contacted by an enforcement agent we strongly encourage you to contact them immediately, arrange payment and keep costs to a minimum.
We strongly recommend you contact us before the account is passed to an enforcement agent and enter into a repayment plan with us to prevent future recovery action under the new regulations.
We will not be able to enter into a repayment plan after an account is passed to an enforcement agent.
Other options for enforcement action include bankruptcy proceedings, and, for a debt of £1000 or more, a charging order whereby the authority may apply to a county court for a charge on the debtor's property.
The council may apply to the magistrates' court for a warrant committing you to prison. The council will only take this step when other efforts have failed and when they have already unsuccessfully tried to levy distress.
Before issuing a warrant of commitment the court must hold a means enquiry with you present. A warrant will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect. The maximum period of imprisonment is three months. The court may decide to fix a term of imprisonment and postpone the warrant on certain conditions, normally relating to payment of the debt over a period of time. The court also has the power to remit all or part of the debt where no warrant is issued or term of imprisonment fixed.
Contact the team directly on 01773 841444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org