RATE REMINDER: For the 2017/18 financial year, Lismore City Council commenced legal proceedings against 329 rateable property owners.
RATE REMINDER: For the 2017/18 financial year, Lismore City Council commenced legal proceedings against 329 rateable property owners. Alison Paterson

What happens if you don't pay your rates?

NO-ONE every looks at their rates notice and thinks "hooray, another bill to pay”.

Most of of us realise our council has to pay for the roads, rates and rubbish, so while we may complain, we stump up the cash.

But there is a minority of people who choose to free-load and try to get out of paying their fair share.

A Lismore City Council spokeswoman said as at June 30, 2018 there were 18,756 rateable properties and, of these, 2505 had an outstanding balance more than than $5.

"Therefore, at that time, there were 13.35 per cent of ratepayers who owed rates and charges at 30/6/18,” she said.

"For the 2017/18 financial year, council commenced legal proceedings against 329 rateable property owners.”

So what happens when residents don't pay their rates?

The council's finance and governance manager, Rino Santin, said failure to pay rates resulted in a routine debt recovery process.

"A reminder letter is issued after each due date for each assessment with an outstanding balance greater than $300, giving 14 days to pay or make a satisfactory payment arrangement,” he said.

"After the 14 day reminder letter period, (council) prepares a debt collection agent list of all assessments with an outstanding balance.”

Mr Santin said the council excluded those assessments with a balance less than $1000, assessments that have a satisfactory payment arrangement and assessments that have not received two reminder letters.

He said the council would then send a debt collection list to an agent for recovery action.

"This includes a 'Demand Letter' which gives a further 14 days to pay or make a satisfactory arrangement,” Mr Santin said.

The council may add to the amount any costs incurred in tracing the person liable to pay the rates or charge or to pursue a debt in court.

Mr Santin said for non-routine debt recovery practices such as the sale of land for unpaid rates and charges, bankruptcy or winding up proceedings, these were reported to the council for determination.

"Where a ratepayer is experiencing financial hardship, they can complete a Rates & Charges Hardship Application,” he said.



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