What Happens If I Don't Pay?

If, for any reason, you don't pay your Business Rates on time we are legally obliged to issue documents advising you of this and warning you what could happen next. 

What document you get depends on how many times you have missed your payment. It could be a reminder, final notice or a summons.

If you receive a summons then the matter is likely to go to court where we will be applying for a liability order. 

A liability order gives us various powers to help us recover the debt:

  • Distress (removal of goods to pay a debt)
  • Bankruptcy/Winding Up
  • Committal to prison

If you have problems paying your business rates please contact us - we may be able to make a special arrangement with you.

What If I Can't Pay?

The most important thing to do if you are having problems paying your business rates is to contact us.  The longer you leave it the more costly it's going to be. Costs and charges can add a lot to your original bill so contact us to avoid them. We can check if you are entitled to any reductions and reduce your bill by applying them to your account. We can also make a special arrangement with you to help you spread your payments.

Reminder and Final Notice

Business rates payments should reach us on the day the instalment is due at the latest.

This will be the 1st or 15th of the month. If you receive a reminder, you must bring your account up to date within seven days. If you fall behind a second time you will not be sent a second reminder.

If you fall behind a second time you will receive a final notice. This confirms that you have lost the right to pay by instalments and all of your business rates for the year must be paid immediately.

Summons and Court

If you have received a final notice and your business rates remains unpaid, we will take further recovery action to obtain the money due. This is done through the Magistrates Court. You will be sent a summons that will tell you how much money you owe and when the hearing will be. You will be charged costs for the issue of the summons.

You can attend court on the date given on the summons and speak to the Magistrates. You do not have to go to court if you don't want to - the decision is yours. At the court hearing we will ask the Magistrates to issue a liability order against you. This can be done even if you are not present.

Liability Order

A liability order gives us powers to recover the money you owe. These are:

  • Taking control of goods to pay a debt. We employ Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs) to collect the debt. More costs will be added to your debt. In some circumstances your goods will be removed and sold.
  • Bankruptcy/Winding Up. We can start proceedings against you through the County Court.
  • Committal to Prison. Unlike almost every other debt, you can be sent to prison for up to three months for not paying your business rates. Even if you have other debts where you are being pressed for payment, it is vital that you make payment of your business rates a priority.

Please Note: committal to prison applies to individuals not to limited companies.