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What are Business Rates, do I have to pay and what happens if I don't pay?

What is National Non-Domestic Rates (or Business Rates as it's more commonly known)?

Business Rates is a statutory tax levied by central government on those responsible for commercial property and is collected locally by the Council.

Rateable values of commercial properties are re-valued every five years, however the government has announced that the April 2015 revaluation is being delayed until April 2017, then every five years after that.

Forty percent of the money collected is retained by the Council. This income, together with income from Council Tax and the Revenue Support Grant from central Government, is used to pay for the services provided by the Council.

If you would like more information about Business Rates the Department for Communities and Local Government publish information letters:

Please see the explanatory notes for more details and answers to common questions about NNDR.

All Business Rates payments throughout both Adur and Worthing are collected are collected by the Revenues & Benefits Service at Adur & Worthing Councils.

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Who is liable to pay?

Liability to pay will generally fall to the occupier of a commercial property usually this is the owner-occupier, leaseholder or subtenant and may be in the name of the sole trader, partnership or a company, or in the case of empty rates the person entitled to occupy it.

There are however some exemptions (including empty rates).

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What happens if I don't pay?

Remember that paying Business Rates by Direct Debit ensures that your payments are made on time every month. Please note that instructions will not be accepted and processed unless your account is up to date.

Recovery Process

Bill (demand process)

When you receive a bill (demand notice) it will detail the amount to be paid and the instalments to be paid on the given dates. It is important that the exact amount due is paid on the due date, otherwise the recovery process will commence:

  • a first reminder
  • a second reminder in certain circumstances
  • a final notice in certain circumstances
  • a Court Summons
  • a Liability Order will be requested from the Court

If you cannot pay, or are having difficulties paying, please contact the business rate team.

First reminder

If payment is not received on the due date you will be issued with a first reminder, which gives seven days for the account to be brought up to date by the amount specified in the notice. If you fail to pay this amount, on the expiry of another seven days you lose the right to pay by instalments and the full amount for the year becomes due and a summons will be issued. If you pay the amount due within the seven days and then pay all further instalments on time, no further action will be taken.

Second Reminder

If you pay the amount outstanding on the first reminder notice, but at a later date fail to pay on time again, you will be issued with a second reminder notice. This notice gives seven days for the account to be brought up to date by the amount specified in the notice. If you fail to pay this amount, on the expiry of another seven days you lose the right to pay by instalments and the full amount for the year becomes due and a summons will be issued. If you pay the amount due within the seven days and then pay all further instalments on time, no further action will be taken.

Final Notice

A Final Notice will be issued if you:

  • fail to pay a third instalment on time
  • if following the issue of a first or second reminder you pay an amount that is not equal to the amount due on the notice

Once a Final Notice is issued your right to pay by instalments is lost and the full balance must be paid within seven days. If you fail to pay the amount in full within seven days then a summons will be issued.

Court Summons

A summons will be issued if you fail to pay in accordance with the Reminder or Final Notice. A summons will incur costs and give notice to appear at the Magistrates Court on the date stated. If you pay in full amount including the costs before the hearing date no further action will be taken.

If you cannot pay the amount shown on the summons in full and would like to make an arrangement, you should contact the Revenues and Benefits section immediately. Any arrangement that is made that includes instalments after the Court hearing date will incur Liability Order Costs and these will be added to your arrangement.

If a summons is issued due to non-payment and you are not disputing liability for payment but cannot afford to pay, you do not need to attend the Court hearing. Instead, you should contact the Revenues and Benefits section immediately to explain your circumstances.

If you are disputing Liability for the charge you should write in the first instance to the Revenues and Benefits Section stating why you should not be held liable in order to give the section time to investigate the matter.

Liability Order

On the day of the hearing (as stated on the Summons) the Council will apply for a Liability Order which will incur additional costs. The Liability Order gives the Council additional ways to collect the outstanding balance, which include:

  • using a bailiff to take control of (seize) your personal goods and possessions or those of your business for sale at public auction
  • taking insolvency action against you (either personally or corporately)
  • taking committal action, which could lead to a custodial sentence

Notice of Liability Order

If a Liability Order is granted the Council will issue a Notice of Liability Order asking you to

  • contact the Council to make a satisfactory arrangement; or
  • pay the amount in full

within seven days to avoid the debt being passed to the Council's bailiff, which will result in additional fees becoming payable.

Debt Advice and Support

If you require advice and support about debt in general or staying out of debt further information (including a leaflet that lists organisations both nationally and locally that may be able to help you) please see the Debt Advice and Support webpage.

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Bailiff legislation changes from 6th April 2014

From 6th April 2014 the way bailiffs can charge to collect debts in England and Wales changed meaning that:

  • as soon as a Business Rates account is passed to the bailiffs by the Council, a Compliance Fee of £75.00 will be added to the debt
  • the bailiff will try to contact you on a number of occasions, but if it becomes necessary to visit you the debt will pass to the Enforcement Stage and a further fee of at least £235.00 will be added to the amount of money that is owed

It is therefore important that if a Liability Order for unpaid Business Rates has been granted by the Court, you should contact the Council before the debt is passed to the bailiff so that the additional fees do not become due.

Information about the key changes to the way that bailiffs can collect debts from 6th April 2014 is available below:

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