Problems paying business rates
Business Rates are a yearly charge that are paid over 10 months starting in April.
If you’re having problems paying we may be able to come up with a payment plan you can afford. If you don't let us know that you are having problems paying you may have to pay further costs and charges. Please complete and return an income and expenditure form to us so that we can agree an acceptable payment plan.
If you don’t pay you will be sent a reminder. If you pay within seven days of the reminder your Business Rates bill will continue as normal. If you don’t pay after the reminder you will get a summons which will incur court costs.
If you receive two reminders in one financial year and don’t pay the next instalment on time you will lose your right to pay by instalments and will be sent a final notice.
A final notice will ask you to pay the whole balance in one lump sum.
If this is not paid or a payment plan isn’t set up you will get a summons which will incur court costs.
We will try to accept any offer to repay any amount outstanding. A liability order will continue to be applied for, which incur extra costs, as security against you not making the payments. If you agree to a payment plan you must make the payments on time, otherwise we will have to take further recovery action.
If you get a summons, you will need to pay the full amount before the court hearing, including the costs of the summons to avoid your case going to court. If you cannot pay in full you can set up a payment plan. If this is set up you will not need to go to court, but you will still need to pay the court costs.
If a liability order has been granted by the Magistrates' Court, we will send you a letter to tell you. If you do not pay in response to this letter, your case will be passed to the council’s bailiff.
Bankruptcy and liquidation
If you are a company, the liability order gives us the power to wind up your company if you do not pay the Business Rates. If you are an individual, the council can apply for a bankruptcy order. If you are having difficulties paying you need to tell us.
Bailiffs are now called Enforcement Agents. On 6 April 2014 new rules were introduced that state what they can charge when recovering money from you. The total fees that an agent can charge is £310, which includes a:
- £75 Compliance fee, charged on receipt of a Liability Order from us and
- £235 Enforcement fee, charged when the agent visits your property for the first time
This is in addition to the money owed to us.
You should try to make a payment plan with the agent. This will include the £75 Compliance fee which will be taken with the first payment. If you don't respond to the letter from the agent, or fail to stick to the payment plan the agent could return later to remove and sell your goods.
The agent can take your goods from the highway or on premises where they have the power to enter. They don't need a warrant to enter a premises to search for goods, if they believe that it's where you normally live, trade or run a business from.
If the agent calls and you fail to make contact, or if you don’t have enough goods which can be removed, they will return the liability order to us for further enforcement action.
If all other options fail, a summons may be issued for you to attend Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court for a committal hearing. If the outcome of this hearing considers you should have paid your business rates, a warrant of commitment may be issued which will mean you have to go to prison for up to three months. Again this will mean you have to pay extra costs.