What happens if you don't pay
Failure to pay instalments
- If you are making regular payments, but are paying later than the dates shown, or if you miss an instalment you may receive a reminder giving you 7 days to bring your payments up to date.
- If you do not pay within the set time or if after a second reminder you fall behind with your payments again, we will issue you with a notice cancelling your right to instalments and requiring you to pay the outstanding balance in full.
- If the balance is not paid, we may issue a Magistrates Court Summons plus costs.
Court Summons and Court Hearing
- A summons may be issued if you have not made payment in accordance with the instalments shown on your Council Tax account, and you have not complied with the reminders, which have been issued.
- After the date the summons is sent then unless payment is made in full (including the summons costs) an application will be made for a Liability Order plus further costs and will be done in your absence if you fail to attend.
- Once a summons has been sent, special arrangements will only be made at our discretion AND only if you supply information about your employer and earnings once a Liability Order has been granted.
- If you are having difficulty paying and cannot pay the full amount on the Summons plus the costs you should contact the Revenues Section as further arrangements, including payment by direct debit, may be made.
- If payment is made by cheque it should be received by the Council at least 7 working days before the date of the Court Hearing otherwise it is unlikely to prevent the Council from applying for a Liability Order plus costs.
- It is your right to appear in court and tell the Magistrates why you feel you should not pay the Council Tax, however the Magistrates will not be able to consider your ability to pay. If you are going to attend the hearing, please advise the Council before the hearing and you may also wish to seek legal advice.
- If you dispute either the liability or the amount of the summons, you should immediately contact the Council's Revenue Section; however your attendance will still be required, unless your dispute is resolved to your satisfaction beforehand.
- Even if you decide not to attend 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 make contact. Arrangements may be made, however the liability order and costs will still be requested at the scheduled Court Hearing.
- The following are not valid defences: You can't afford to pay: You have applied for Council Tax Benefit, Discount, Exemption or other reduction: You have an outstanding appeal with the Valuation Tribunal: You have not received the notices sent to you - The Council does not have to prove that you received them.
- If a Liability Order is granted by the Magistrates and you have not paid in full the Council will send you a notice informing you together with a form that you must complete and return with your income details. If you do not give this information you run the risk of being taken back to Court where a fine may be imposed on you. If you haven't paid or returned your income details within 14 days, Enforcement Agents may be instructed to visit you and you will incur extra costs.
- A liability order enables the Council to recover as follows:
Taking Control of Goods
- Enforcement Agents employed by the Council work to an agreed “Enforcement Agents Code of Practice” and can discuss your financial circumstances with you and can either request payment or enter an arrangement after Taking Control of Goods. The arrangement will include the Council's and Enforcement Agent's costs. If you contact them on receipt of their letter to make an arrangement they may need to visit your home in order to secure the debt first.
- If you have been visited before and have not kept to an arrangement, they will add further costs and may not enter into another arrangement with you.
- The Enforcement Agents will ask to enter your home to list your goods - this is known as the Taking Control of Goods. If you fail the arrangement the Enforcement Agents could return later to remove and sell your goods and further costs will be incurred for the removal of the goods, auctioneer's fees and the cost of storage.
- If you are unable to pay in full the Enforcement Agent has 3 options - A walking possession agreement where your goods will not be removed if you keep to the arrangements agreed with the Enforcement Agent; Close possession, by staying on the premises until payment is made or the goods are removed for sale; Removal of the goods immediately for their sale.
- If you fail to make contact, or if you have insufficient goods which can be removed, the Enforcement Agent will return the Liability Order to the Council for further enforcement action.
Taking Control of Goods Costs
The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 - Enforcement Fees Regulation 4 Table 1
Fee Stage Fixed Fee % fee for sum exceeding £1,500
Compliance Stage £75.00 0%
Enforcement Stage £235.00 7.5%
Sale or Disposal Stage £110.00 7.5%
Attachment of Earnings or Benefit
- The Council can instruct your employer to make deductions set as a percentage of your net earnings and pay the amounts deducted to the Council. your employer may also deduct an administration charge towards their costs in making each deduction and sending it us
- Employment details must be supplied and failure to do so could result in an additional fine of up to £500 for non-disclosure and £1,000 for supplying false information.
- Income support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) may be collected by way of direct deduction through the Benefits Agency.
- If you owe more than £5000 you may be served with a Statutory Demand.
- Unless the balance due is paid immediately, the Council will continue to petition for your Bankruptcy, which will involve considerable costs. If you are made Bankrupt, the Official Receiver or a trustee appointed to act on their behalf will seek to realise any assets that you may have, to be sold, to pay off the outstanding debts which may involve substantial further costs and could result in the loss of your property or any other assets you may own.
- If you own a property, and the total balance is £1,000 or more, the Council may decide to place a charge against the property.
- You may be forced to sell the property or the order will remain on the property until it is sold.