Payments of commercial rates by businesses which are severely impacted by COVID-19 can be deferred until the end of May, following an agreement between the Government and local authorities announced (here) on 20 March 2020 (the "Announcement"). Businesses in the retail, leisure, hospitality and childcare sectors are among those which can avail of a deferral

Local authorities are responsible for implementing deferrals in their respective areas.

Every year, local authorities collect €1.5 billion in commercial rates, which are essential for funding local services. Short-term supports are available for local authorities to help with cash-flow reductions resulting from rates deferrals. These measures will be kept under review as the COVID-19 situation develops.

Local authorities are monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on ratepayers and engaging with rate payers on a case by case basis, taking account of business pressures experienced by ratepayers across a wide range of business sectors, not just the sectors benefitting from the rates deferral. For example, Dublin City Council published a notice (here) indicating that each rate payer will be:

"treated sympathetically and consistently in agreeing to defer rate payments and restructure payment plans where required."

Ratepayers should contact their local authorities immediately if they are experiencing difficulties. Cork County Council's website states (here) that:

"commercial ratepayers that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations during the COVID-19 response period should contact Cork County Council immediately in relation to any rates payments falling due up until the end of May."

Rates should continue to be paid as usual by ratepayers who are still in a position to pay.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.