What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax

We recognise that people may struggle to pay their Council Tax. However, if you do not contact us, and do not make payment in line with your bill, action will be taken to recover any money outstanding from you.

If you are the person liable to pay Council Tax for a property, you will be sent a Council Tax bill. A bill will be sent to you when you first become liable, and every financial year that you remain liable.

You will also be sent an amended bill if there are any changes e.g. a discount, exemption, or premium applies or has come to an end.

Your bill will give you instalments to pay the amount due. 

A Financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. On an annual bill (sent in March for the following financial year) you will be given 10 statutory instalments (or 12 if requested). You will have less instalments if your become liable to pay part way through a financial year.

What happens if I don't pay?

If you do not pay in line with your bill, you will receive the following from us:

A Reminder

You will be sent a reminder to pay the amount that is overdue, including any amount that will become due within 7 days of the reminder being sent. The reminder will ask that the amount shown is paid within 7 days. If you pay the amount as instructed, your instalments will continue as normal.

If you do not pay line with the instructions on your reminder, you will be sent...

A Summons

If we send you a summons, this means you have lost your right to pay by instalments and the full balance outstanding is due. This will be shown on the summons letter. Costs of £48.00 will also be added to your account. The summons will tell you that the Council is asking the Magistrates Court to award a Liability Order for non-payment of your Council Tax. The summons will confirm the date and time of the hearing. If you pay the amount stated, including the costs, no further action will be taken.

If you do not pay line with the instructions on your Summons, you will be sent...

A Liability Order Notification

This letter is sent after the Liability Order hearing has taken place. If a Liability Order is granted by the Court, you will be sent a letter confirming this. Costs of £26.00 will be added to your account. You will also be sent an income and expenditure questionnaire asking you supply details about your financial circumstances, which you have a legal requirement to supply.

What action can the Council take to recover unpaid Council Tax?

The award of a Liability Order gives the Council additional powers to recover unpaid Council Tax. This might include:

  • making deductions directly from your earnings (for more information, please see 'Attachment of Earnings Order - Employer Regulations' found in the download section of this page),
  • making deduction directly from certain benefits,
  • referring your debt to an Enforcement Agent (where additional costs may be incurred),
  • making an application for bankruptcy or liquidation,
  • apply for a charging order on your home, and if required force sale,
  • apply to the Court for your committal to prison.

When will the Council use Enforcement Agents to recover unpaid Council Tax?

If a Liability Order has been obtained from the Court, we can instruct an Enforcement Agent to collect outstanding Council Tax debt. Further costs may be incurred and will be payable by you if your debt is referred to an Enforcement Agent. We will refer your debt if:

  • you have not completed and returned the income and expenditure form sent to you with your Liability Order notification, 
  • you have not made, or maintained a repayment plan that you have agreed with us,
  • other methods of recovery such as an attachment to earnings or benefits have been unsuccessful.

If you have arrears and are worried about your debt being referred to an Enforcement Agent, contact us immediately to discuss your payment options. Our staff will try to help agree a suitable payment plan with you. This will also avoid additional costs being incurred.

Are you having difficult paying your Council Tax?

If you are having problems paying your council bills, you should let us know as soon as possible.

We are sympathetic to circumstances of genuine hardship and we will work with you to put arrangements in place that will take your financial circumstances into account. Please remember that Council Tax is a priority debt and should be paid before other non-priority debts.

Make an offer of payment now. Tell us how much you earn and what your household commitments are and we may be able to agree payment terms, which take into account your financial circumstances. Please note, certain arrangements will be subject to the addition of costs but this will be avoided where possible. Council Tax staff are trained to deal with customers with financial difficulty and will treat you with courtesy and respect.

As soon as you realise you are struggling to pay, contact us on 01302 734454 and we'll see what we can do. 

Have you also checked:

If you are a low income household

If you are on a low income, or receiving benefits, you may qualify for additional support through the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Problem gambling advice and support

If you would like advice or support relating to problem gambling, helpful information can be found at www.gamcare.org.uk 

Refusing to pay?

The billing and collection of Council Tax is covered by legislation set by the Government.

We will tackle any avoidance tactics used to avoid payment of Council Tax, which will have repercussions for the individual concerned.

Ultimately you can be sent to prison for refusing or knowingly avoiding payment and we will not hesitate to use such powers where it is absolutely necessary.

Providing false information to avoid Council Tax registration and payment will also be dealt with seriously and action to prosecute individuals concerned will be taken.

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Last updated: 22 September 2023 15:12:39

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