Rates

Rates

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Rate increases 2018/19

Some of our ratepayers have experienced significant increases to their rates this year.

One of the City's largest property developers took the City and 2 other councils to court so it could pay the same low residential rate as residents while building its developments.

The City opposed the change and argued that using the land for property development was for commercial purposes, not residential purposes. The Land and Environment Court ruled in favour of the developer.

As a result of the court decision, the rating category for all development sites where construction of residential buildings is underway was changed from a business to residential rating category. The decision has allowed property developers to pay significantly lower rates.

This resulted in a reduction in rates for more than 100 sites and produced an income shortfall of $11.7 million. 

One-off catch-up

The Local Government Act allows a one-off catch-up to recover these rates. In 2018/19 ratepayers are feeling the impact of this one-off catch-up.

The increases occur in suburbs with the highest land values, which are determined by the Valuer General, not the City.

It is important to note, the City of Sydney has among the lowest average residential rates in NSW.

The City and other councils believe the outcome of the court ruling is unfair for its ratepayers and has challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeal. We are now awaiting that judgment.  

If you are having financial difficulty paying the 2018/19 rates, please contact the City on
02 9265 9333 to discuss making a payment arrangement.

Rates explained

Rates are the City's primary sources of ongoing income, making up approximately 55% of our income each year.

Rates are used to provide essential infrastructure and services.

If you own a home or business property you will pay rates to your local council, unless your property (a church, school or hospital, for example) is exempt from rates. These rates are determined in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 1993.

3 levies and charges may be shown on your rates notice.

1. General rates

Rates are calculated from property valuations supplied by the NSW Valuer General. The calculation of rates is tied to the value of your property, and the limits placed on councils in setting rates.

Land valuations: New land values are issued every three years. As the City's overall rates income is limited by rate pegging, an increase (or decrease) in your land value does not necessarily mean a corresponding increase (or decrease) in your rates.

Categorisation of land: All rateable land within the local area is categorised as either residential or business. The City determines the category of your property based on its dominant use. 

There are 3 sub-categories within the local area:

  • residential
  • business
  • business CBD.

Business rate categories can be seen on the map below.

Rate pegging: Each year the NSW State Government through the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) approves a maximum percentage increase in the total income a council can receive from rates, thereby limiting the amount of income a council can raise via general rates.


Rates calculations: The City uses the method of ad valorem and minimum rates. Under this method, a council must impose a rate per dollar (ad valorem) of land value, with a minimum amount.

The rate per dollar calculation uses the land's valuation and category.

If the valuation multiplied by the rate per dollar falls below the minimum rate, a minimum rate will be charged.

Our rates calculator can help estimate your rates for a full financial year.

GST: Council rates are exempt from the goods and services tax.

2. Stormwater charge

Property owners must also pay a 'Stormwater Management Service Charge' that contributes to the cost of providing new or additional stormwater services across the local area.

The yearly charge for residential landowners is $25 while strata unit and company-titled property owners pay $12.50.

Certain land may be exempt from the charge, such as Crown land, vacant land containing no impervious surfaces, and land belonging to charities and public benevolent institutions.

3. Waste services charge

Residential property owners also pay for waste services, including clean-ups and recycling.

The price you pay for these services is clearly marked on your rate notice, under 'Domestic Waste Management Charge', which is also exempt from GST.

Rates payment information

Due dates for rates

Rates are paid every year and can be paid in full or by quarterly instalments.

If you are paying in full, your rates are due on or before 31 August each financial year.

The due dates for quarterly instalments are:

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

Late payments and interest charges

If you don’t pay your rates on or before the due date, interest (calculated daily) will be charged on the amount owing. The interest rate is set annually by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

The current interest rate for the 2018/19 financial year – displayed on the front of your rates notice – is 7.5% per year.

The City may take legal action to recover unpaid rates and charge the cost of the action to the ratepayer.

Change your postal address

Contact us to change your mailing address in person, in writing or via our online form. We can’t change your postal address over the phone.

The City will be notified if you change your name by the relevant state government agencies.

Rates overpayment

Overpayment of rates can only be refunded if your account is in credit. Sufficient evidence of the payment will need to be submitted along with the rates overpayment refund application available below. Refund processing time may take up to 21 calendar days from the date we receive your completed application.

A refund fee of $50 is also applicable as per the City's fees and charges schedule and will be adjusted against the credit balance. 

Financial difficulties

If you are having difficulty paying your rates on time, please call the City to discuss possible alternative arrangements. If you are suffering severe financial difficulties you may apply for a financial hardship determination. Download and complete the form below.

Direct debit

You can pay your rates through direct debit. To ensure your payment is processed in time, you need to return the form, available for download below, 14 days before your due date.

To cancel your direct debit you need to notify the City in writing. If you are selling your property you are still required to cancel your direct debit in writing.

If funds are not available in your nominated account to pay your rates on the due date, the City will charge a dishonour fee and your direct debit will be cancelled.

Need more information?

City of Sydney02 9265 9333

How to pay

Online Visa, MasterCard, American Express and electronic funds transfer accepted.
Direct debit Download and complete the form below. The City can send you a form if you don’t have a printer.
Phone Call 1300 360 062 and follow the prompts. Payments from credit cards and savings accounts accepted.
Cheque or money order

Make the payment out to the City of Sydney and send to:


City of Sydney
GPO Box 5112
Sydney NSW 2001


We don't issue receipts for payments made by post.

BPAY Our biller code is 7500. Your reference number is on your rates notice.
In person At a customer service centre, or Westpac branch. You don’t need to be a Westpac customer.

Map showing business rate categories

View a larger version of the Business rates map

business rate legend pink area = Business ordinary rate category

business rate legend yellow area = Business CBD rate category

Last updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2018