Problems paying Council Tax?
Always let us know
If you don't let us know that you are having difficulty making regular payments, you may incur further costs and charges which will have to be paid.
We are legally required to help provide necessary services, we are committed to collecting the amounts that are due on the required dates. This is to enable a quality service to be provided at the best possible value to the community.
We take swift recovery action against non-payers, if necessary through the Courts. The costs relating to this action are passed directly to the non-payer.
Recovery of unpaid Council Tax
If you get into arrears with your Council Tax we can recover the debt from you in a number of ways:
- if you miss an instalment we will send you a reminder notice which will give you 14 days to bring your payments up to date
- if you default on payment for a second time in the financial year, you will have to pay the outstanding balance of your Council Tax bill (i.e. the full amount for the rest of the year)
If the balance is not paid, we will commence recovery action. This means that we can apply to the magistrates’ court for a Liability Order.
You will be sent a Summons telling you when the court will consider the application and the amount we are seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of the Council Tax plus £20.00 costs. You have the right to attend the court and offer evidence as to why the order should not be made. Once the application to court has been made, a further £40.00 costs will be added to the outstanding amount. Therefore a total of £60.00 will be added if debt recovery goes to court. If you make a payment in full before you receive the court date, no further action will be taken (other than the initial £20.00 charge).
If you decide not to attend the court, you should speak to us, or, if you prefer, your local Citizens Advice Bureau
We will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment but we cannot do that unless you contact us.
To discuss an alternative payment plan and for us to consider your personal situation, please complete the online form, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01884 255255. If you do make an arrangement and stick to it, you will avoid any further recovery costs.
If a Liability Order is granted by the court, we can demand certain information from you about your employment and earnings to help us decide how to recover the debt. You are legally required to give the information and it may help you pay the bill.
We may also require you to give full details of your income and expenditure. By looking at these details we are often able to help you to arrange a mutually acceptable payment plan. We may also be able to advise you whether Council Tax Reduction (formally Benefit) may be applicable.
Use the link to the right of this page to download a copy of an Income and Expenditure form.
The main options for recovery are as follows:
Use of Enforcement Agents
New regulations regarding the collection of Council Tax, Business Rates and Sundry Debts (subject to County Court action), came into effect on 6 April 2014 and we no longer use Bailiffs to collect our debts, instead we now use Enforcement Agents.
A new set of fees will be charged by the Enforcement Agents.
As soon as in instruction to collect a debt is passed to an Enforcement Agent, £75.00 will be immediately added to the amount outstanding.
If payment is not made then a Notice of Enforcement will be sent giving seven clear days before the Enforcement Agent will call to take control of goods.
When the Enforcement Agent visits in person, a fee of £235.00 is incurred and if the amount owing is more than £1,500 a 7.5% charge will be added for every £1.00 over £1,500.
The fee of £235.00 is a one-off charge regardless of how many times the Enforcement Agent calls thereafter.
However, if the Enforcement Agent returns to remove the goods for sale, an additional charge of £110.00 will be added to the debt and again 7.5% for every £1.00 over £1,500 that is owed.
In addition, costs can be added for storing removed goods, calling a locksmith to gain access to the premises, advertising the sale of goods, auctioneers commission and out of pocket expenses.
Special arrangement with the Council Tax Department
A special arrangement can be agreed with us that is individually tailored. Costs of £40.00 are included in the arrangement which will then be monitored monthly. If the arrangement agreed fails, it is then usual for Enforcement Agents to be instructed to collect the charge.
Attachment of Earnings Order
We can order your employer to recovery the amount direct from your wages or salary and pay it straight to us. The amount set will be a set proportion of your pay after certain other deductions (such as Income Tax and National Insurance), your employer may also deduct a further £1.00 towards their costs in making each deduction and sending it to us.
Deductions from Income Support
If you are receiving Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance, we may be able to apply for deduction from that benefit.
If the above methods of collection prove unsuccessful, we can place a Charging Order on a property where the freeholder/leaseholder and Council Tax payer are the same. This means that if you try to sell or obtain a secured loan on the property, the fact that a charge has been placed by us for non-payment will be discovered when the potential purchaser or lender conducts a search on the property. You will be required to discharge (pay) the Charging Order before a transfer of ownership can take place.
Committal to prison
We may apply to the magistrates’ court for a warrant committing you to prison. We will only take this step when other efforts have failed and when we have tried unsuccessfully to levy distress.
Before issuing a warrant of commitment, the court must hold a means enquiry with you present. A warrant will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect.
The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.
The court may decide to fix a term of imprisonment and postpone the warrant on certain conditions, normally relating to the payment of the debt over a period of time. The court also has the power to remit all or part of the debt where no warrant is issued or term of imprisonment fixed.