What happens if you don't pay your business rates

Reminders, final notices, summons, court hearings, liability orders, bailiffs.

These notes are provided for guidance only. They are not intended to be a comprehensive or definitive interpretation of the law.

Recovery process

1. Demand notice

You can pay your rates in ten monthly instalments, starting in April and finishing in January.

Each instalment must be paid by the first of the month. Your bill will show the amounts and dates of your instalments.

If you are having problems paying, don't wait until you get a reminder, contact our Business Rates Billing and Collection team straight away using the contact details on this page.

We will be able to tell you whether you are entitled to a reduction in your bill, or advise you of the best way of applying.

2. Reminder notice

If you do not pay your instalments on time, we will send you a reminder.

You have seven days to pay the late instalment.

If you do not pay, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. This means you will have to pay the whole amount for the year within a further seven days.

Contact our Recovery team straight away to see if they can help you, using the contact details on this page.

3. Final notice

If you bring your account up-to-date after a reminder and you fall behind for a second time in the same year, we will send you a final notice.

You have seven days to pay the whole amount for the year; otherwise, we may start legal proceedings to recover the balance.

Contact our Recovery team straight away to see if they can help you, using the contact details on this page.

4. Court summons

If you fail to pay after a reminder or final notice, and you have not been in touch with us to agree a revised payment arrangement, we will send you a court summons.

The summons will tell you the date and time of the hearing at North Hampshire Magistrates' Court in Basingstoke and the amount that we are seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of business rates for the year plus the council's costs, currently £80.

You can attend the court and give reasons why the court should not grant the liability order. However, you are not obliged to, as the court is able to decide the matter in your absence.

Even at this stage, we may be able to help you, so please contact our Recovery team immediately using the contact details on this page

We will ask you questions about your financial circumstance and try to work out a realistic and fair payment schedule with you. We may still apply to the court for a liability order but if you pay the agreed amounts when they are due, we will not take any further action.

You should also contact us if you think you are not liable to pay the rates or disagree with the amount of the summons.

5. Liability order

If you fail to pay the amount shown on the summons before the court hearing, we will make an application to the magistrates for a liability order for the outstanding amount of business rates for the year, plus additional costs of £80.

The fact that you may be waiting for the outcome of an appeal with the Valuation Office Agency is not a valid defence against the issue of a liability order.

The court will grant a liability order against you if it is satisfied that the amount shown on the summons has become payable and you have not paid it.

We will send a letter to you, informing you of how much you must pay.

If you are unable to pay in full within 14 days, you should contact our Recovery team, as we may still be able to agree an arrangement.

If you do not pay and do not contact us, we will instruct a bailiff to recover the debt.

6. Enforcement action

We can instruct an enforcement agent (formerly known as bailiff) to collect the debt and/or remove your goods to sell at auction so we can recover the outstanding amount.

These regulations are known as the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. One of the most significant changes is a new fee structure that the Ministry of Justice has set.

Because of the significant increase in pdf icon enforcement fees [184kb], we strongly recommend you to contact our Recovery team if you have difficulties paying your business rates.

If you are unable to pay the outstanding debt in full, the enforcement agent must follow three distinct stages:

  • Compliance stage -  £75 fee - covers all activities from receipt of the instruction up to,  but not including, the enforcement stage
  • Enforcement stage - £235 (plus 7.5 per cent of debt amount over £1,500) - covers all activities from first attendance to the property up to,, but not including, the sale or disposal stage
  • Sale or disposal stage - £110 (plus 7.5% of debt amount over £1,500) - covers all activities from first attendance to transport goods to the place of sale or starting to prepare for the sale until completion of the sale or disposal

Transitional arrangements are in place for accounts where enforcement action was started before 6 April 2014.

7. Bankruptcy or winding-up proceedings

We may consider bankruptcy or winding-up proceedings under the Insolvency Act 1986:

  • Bankruptcy: if you are an individual, we may apply to the court to make you bankrupt
  • Winding-up: if you are a registered company, we may apply for the company to be wound up to realise its assets

8. Prison

If we are not able to collect the amount due, using one of the methods described above, we may apply to the magistrates for a warrant committing you to prison.

We will send you a summons to attend a hearing at the magistrates' court. If you do not turn up for the hearing, we will ask the magistrates to issue a warrant for your arrest.

As well as the debt, you will become responsible for our costs.

At the hearing, the magistrates will carry out an inquiry into your means and conduct. If they conclude that your failure to pay was because of wilful refusal or culpable neglect, they may sentence you to prison for up to three months, without remission.

Fair collection and debt recovery

We have written a document to help explain how we are consistent when collecting the debts that are owed to us.

Our pdf icon Fair collection and debt recovery policy [508kb] includes information about collections for business rates.

 
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Contacts

Business rates - recovery
businessrates@rushmoor.gov.uk
Tel: 01252 398913
View full details

Business rates - billing and collection
businessrates@rushmoor.gov.uk
Tel: 01252 398331
View full details

 

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