Rates Information & FAQs

Why does Council charge Rates?

Council provides a wide range of services to benefit our community.

These include managing and maintaining expensive infrastructure such as:

  • Local roads
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Sports stadium
  • Sporting grounds
  • Childcare centres
  • Parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Street lighting

Council also provides other services including:

  • Planning and development assessment
  • Waste collection 
  • Economic development

One of the ways Council provides these services is through our statutory power to charge Rates.

Rates account for the largest portion of Council funds.

Fees and charges, and grants from the federal and state governments make up the balance.

How is my land categorised for rating: residential, business or farmland?

The Local Government Act, 1993 requires Council must declare each parcel of rateable land to be categorised as either:

  • Residential
  • Business
  • Farmland
  • or Mining

Council also has several subcategories that are determined by the dominant use of the land, for example:

  • Farmland – Dairy Farm
  • Residential – Non-Urban
  • Business – Permit

A rating category is determined purely on the dominant current use of your property.

Categories do not change zonings, or permitted use or, create subdivision entitlements.

The Act is very specific on the requirements for each category.

Parcels of land that are unable to be categorised are placed in the default category of ‘Business’ in accordance with the Local Government Act, 1993.

Changes of rating category

Ratepayers can apply for a change of rating category by completing a Change of Category Application Form.

All applications are reviewed and processed in accordance with the Local Government Act, 1993 and any changes made will be in accordance with the relevant sections of the Act.

You must notify Council within thirty (30) days if a change to your rating category occurs.

Periodically Council conducts audits and may change your rating category following such an event.

If you are dissatisfied with Council’s declaration of the category of your land after it has been reviewed, you may appeal to the Land & Environment Court within 30 days of the declaration being made, under Section 526 of the Local Government Act, 1993. Download your Change of Category Application.

To find out more about Rating categories:

How does Council calculate my Rates?

When Council is preparing its budget for the new financial year, it considers how much revenue will be generated from rates and charges.

Council is limited to a maximum percentage that can be raised from certain rates and charges. This restriction is called ‘rate pegging’ and it is set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) each year.

So Council is required to calculate rates in a specific way. Council uses a combination of a base amount and an ordinary rate.

Ordinary rate

The ordinary rate is subject to *ad valorem being applied to the current value of the land. The base amount and *ad valorem vary depending on which rating category your land belongs to.

Base amount

The use of a base amount brings the higher and lower values closer together and in effect spreads the burden across the board to all ratepayers. The base amount can vary across rate category types but not within categories.

*Ad valorem

The ad valorem is the cents in the dollar amount applied to the value of the land.

The ad valorem is calculated by taking into account the total anticipated rates revenue and the average percentage increase in land values in the area.

The ad valorem rate varies across the rate category types.       

Sample rate calculator

Base amount + (individual land value x ad valorem rate) = annual ordinary rates.

For example:

  • Mr Jones owns land in the residential rating category, which has been valued at $175,000 The base amount applicable is $414.05
    • The ad valorem rate for a residential property is 0.0017913
    • $414.05 + ($175,000 x $0.0017913) = $727.55

A landowner, whose land has increased in value, but where the percentage increase is less than the average percentage increase for the area, is likely to see a reduction in their ad valorem component.

A landowner, whose land has increased in value such that the percentage increase is consistent with the average percentage increase, is likely to see little change in the ad valorem component of their ordinary rates.

A landowner, whose percentage land value increase has exceeded the average percentage increase for land values may experience an increase in the ad valorem component of their ordinary rate.

Find out more about rates calculations:

Can I be exempt from paying Rates?

Some parcels of land are exempt from rates and charges.

These include parcels of land within a national park or crown land and land that belongs to, for example:

  • a religious body
  • school
  • or a recognised charity

Unless you meet the exemption criteria in the Local Government Act, you cannot be exempt from paying rates.

I have made a rate payment, but it has not been deducted from my account, why?

If you have made a payment to your rate account and then received your rate notice and the balance indicates the payment has not come off, there could be a few reasons for this:

  • You may have made your payment after we have gathered all your information to send to our printing company to produce the notices. Any payments made after this will not appear on your notice, but your payment will be recorded on our system
  • Check your bank statement to see if the payment has been deducted from your bank account
  • If the payment has been deducted from your bank account, then check the method by which you paid. Did you provide the correct reference number to make the payment?

Reference numbers

Reference numbers are 8-digit numbers. All rate accounts start with ‘5’, water accounts start with ‘6’.

The reference number is unique to your property and every property has its own number so if you have used the reference number from your previous property in error, then the payment may have been credited to the wrong rate account or your water account.

Your payment has gone astray!

If you think your payment has gone astray check with your bank first, then contact our Revenue Management Team immediately with all the payment details.

Can I have input into a proposed rate increase?

The Local Government Act, 1993 is quite specific in how Councils can increase rates and charges and before doing so must consult with the public extensively through public meetings and the annual draft operational delivery plan, which is usually, released around April or May each year.

All submissions received by Council from the public regarding the upcoming financial years rates and charges are reported to Council and all submissions considered prior to adopting the plan.

This is your opportunity to raise any issues about the rates and charges proposed for the coming year as once the rates and charges have been adopted, they cannot be changed until the following year.

Councillors are aware of the burden any increase of rates and charges has on the community and any rate, charge or fee which needs to be increased is only done after all Councillors are satisfied the increase in fees or charges is justified.

Do Rates have Goods & Services Tax (GST)?

Council Rates and Domestic Waste Management charges are all exempt from the GST in accordance with A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) (Exempt Taxes, Fees and Charges) Determination 2001 (No. 4) Division 81.

What happens to payment of Rates on settlement after the sale and/or purchase of a property?

Once the contract for sale of a property has taken place, the Solicitor/Conveyancer should request a 603 certificate from Council.

This certificate is a notification of all outstanding monies owing on the property i.e. rates, water, kerb & gutter or effluent.

At settlement time, the Solicitor/Conveyancer should contact Council and request an update to the 603 certificate as new rates, charges or interest may have been added to the account.

Rates arrears not paid at the time of settlement remain the responsibility of the new property owner.

It is up to the purchaser, seller and Solicitor/Conveyancer to determine if rates and charges are paid in full for the whole of the remaining year at settlement or up to the next quarterly instalment date.

It is always advisable to pay rates and charges for the whole of the year at settlement as the time delay in notifying Council of the sale by the Land Titles Office can mean the new owners do not receive their rate instalment notice causing payments to be missed and interest to be incurred. 

Why am I still receiving rate notices after I have sold my property?

If you are still receiving rate notices for a property you no longer own mark the envelope R.T.S (return to sender) with a date advising “Property Sold – DD/MM/YY”.

Council records can only be amended following receipt of a transfer document detailing the changes to the certificate of title from NSW Land Registry Services.

Once a purchaser’s solicitor/bank lodges the advice with NSW Land Registry Services, they will notify council directly. Sometimes there can be a delay of anywhere up to 8 weeks depending on how quickly the documents are lodged with NSW Land Registry Services.

We recommend that you contact your Solicitor to ensure the appropriate documents have been lodged with NSW Land Registry Services, as you remain responsible for all rates and charges until the actual title of the property has been changed. 

How do land valuations issued by the Valuer General affect my Rates?

Land valuations are supplied by the Valuer General’s Office.

All properties within the Shoalhaven are re-valued every (3) three years.

Annual valuations granted by the Valuer General for the purpose of Land Tax cannot be used for the purpose of levying property rates.

What if I don’t agree with the land value of my property?

Councils do not determine the land value of your property. Land is valued by the Office of NSW Valuer General. These valuations are conducted for Shoalhaven City Council every three (3) years and you will receive a valuation notice from them after it is completed.

If you do not agree with the land value, you have 60 days to object to the Valuer General.

Valuation objections and/or appeals

All objections and/or appeals regarding the valuation of land must be directed to the Valuer General’s Office. Council cannot alter a valuation without instruction from the Valuer General.

If you lodge an objection or have an objection pending, you must still pay your rates while your objection is being considered.

Once the objection is determined and Council is advised of the amended land value, the rates will be adjusted, and the ratepayer advised.

For further information go to the Valuer General website.

How often and when must I pay Rates?

Shoalhaven City Council rates are payable in full or by quarterly instalments.

You can pay online or choose one of the other payment options available.

If you pay your rates in full then you must pay your rates by 31st August each year to prevent interest being added to them.

The Local Government Act, 1993 requires rates paid by quarterly instalments to be received by:

  • 1st instalment 31 August
  • 2nd instalment 30 November
  • 3rd instalment 28 February
  • 4th instalment 31 May  

This also prevents interest being added to overdue rates. 

For more information about rate payments view:

What will happen if I am late with my rate payment?

If your payment has not reached Council by the due date, you will incur interest on you rate account.

  • The interest charge is simple interest calculated daily on the overdue amount
  • The amount of interest charged is noted on your rate notice and can vary each year
  • The interest rate is determined each year by Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal NSW (IPART) and published in the Government Gazette

Council has a debt recovery policy, and this will be implemented if you have not made any contact with Council to discuss your circumstances.

Council staff do not have the resources to personally contact ratepayers if a payment is not received.

The responsibility remains with the ratepayer to make their payments on time or contact council and advise them of any problems so arrangements or an agreement can be put in place.

Rates must be paid in full by 31st August every year unless paying by instalments.

What if I am having difficulties paying my Rates?

Council recognises that some ratepayers may experience financial difficulties in meeting their rate commitments on time.

A ratepayer at any time may make arrangements to pay off their outstanding accounts by regular payments, subject to the following guidelines:

  • All agreements must be in writing and signed
  • The amount and frequency of the payments under the agreement are to be acceptable to council
  • Agreements should, where possible, seek to have the outstanding rates and annual charges cleared by the end of the current financial year
  • Current rates and charges are to be paid when they fall due in addition to the arrangement plan where possible
  • All arrangements are in accordance with council policy and will be reviewed on regular basis

To apply for An Agreement to Pay Rates & Charges, simply complete the application and return it to Council.

Financial distress arrangements

Council can also provide a hardship application for those people in severe financial distress.

The hardship provision is only applicable for the property you reside in, it does not cover vacant land or investment properties.

To discuss the provisions for hardship contact our Revenue Management Team.

How to notify Council of your change of address

It is the policy of Shoalhaven City Council to only accept a change of address in writing for the protection of the property owner.

How to notify Council to change your name on your rate notice

If you have changed your name and would like Council to amend its records, you will need to change the ownership name on the certificate of title, this will need to be changed through your Solicitor or directly with NSW Land Registry Services who will then inform Council.

You can contact:

What is the waste management charge & new works waste management charge?

The Local Government Act, 1993 allows all property owners to contribute to the current and future provisions of waste services.

The Local Government Act requires councils to levy an annual charge for providing domestic waste management services to all parcels of rateable land for which the service is available, whether or not it is actually used.

Your weekly service is for a standard 120 Litre bin, 80 litre bin or 240 litre bin along with a 240 litre recyclable bin, which is collected fortnightly.

Waste collection bins remain the property of the Council and must not be removed from the property when you relocate.

Vacant blocks of land are charged a New Works Waste Management charge in accordance with the Local Government Act where the waste service is/could be available.

The NSW State Government introduced a levy on waste collection a few years ago and this portion of your total waste management charge appears separately on your rate notice for easy identification.

Pro rata adjustments due to changes in bin sizes will apply on a weekly basis from the date of change, following advice from the Waste Services Department.

If you are unsatisfied with the size of your bin and would like it changed an administration fee will be charged, see our Bins page.

For more information:

What is the stormwater levy & why do I have to pay it?

Stormwater is rainwater that flows off land.

When it rains, some stormwater is collected from your roof, driveways or paved and landscaped areas. It flows over land, or through the pipes and drains to the existing public stormwater system and into our creeks.

All levels of Government have acknowledged that traditional funding sources are not enough to maintain key public infrastructure in an adequate and safe condition. The State Government amended the Local Government Act a few years ago to provide Councils with the ability to implement a program of major improvements to stormwater management, funded by a Stormwater Levy.

This decision reflects the fact that Councils need additional funds beyond their usual budget, to be able to undertake this large amount of work.

Shoalhaven City is one of the high population growth areas in NSW, this leads to development pressure in the City’s urban areas, many of which are located close to the City’s main water bodies such as rivers, bays, lakes and the ocean.

Additional development can lead to increasing nutrient and sediment loads to the creeks, rivers and estuaries. This potential is compounded by the increase in population during holiday periods.

Therefore, Shoalhaven City Council has developed a plan to provide more effective management of our urban stormwater, thereby contributing to environmental protection.

The Stormwater Management Plan covers all urban areas in the City with a resident population that exceeds 1,000 people.

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Last updated on 02 June 2020