Council Tax recovery explained
If you do not pay your Council Tax or pay late, you may be subject to recovery proceedings.
Council Tax is a yearly charge normally paid in ten monthly instalments, starting in April. Your bill must be paid by the 6th of each month. Your bill shows your payment dates and amounts.
Any changes to your Council Tax account will cause an amended bill to be sent to you. You should make payment according to your latest bill.
If you do not pay as specified on your bill, we will issue a Reminder Notice. If payment is still not made then a summons will be issued, including additional costs. If payment in full, including costs, is still not received then we will seek to obtain a Liability Order from the Magistrates Court. This incurs further costs and allows us to pursue further action, such as an Attachment of Earnings/Benefits or passing the debt to a bailiff to collect.
If you do not pay on time you will be sent a Reminder Notice, which means you have seven days to pay the amount on the reminder otherwise a summons will be sent without further notice.
If you have received two reminders within the same tax year and fail to pay a subsequent instalment on time, your right to pay by instalments will be cancelled and a summons will be issued.
When the summons is issued, you immediately incur an additional £45.00 in costs and your right to pay by instalments will be cancelled. If the full amount remains unpaid by the Magistrates Court hearing date on the summons, we will seek to obtain a Liability Order from the Magistrates Court, which will incur an extra £50.00 in costs.
You must pay the full summons balance before the hearing date in order to avoid a Liability Order. If you are unable to pay in full, you can contact the Council Tax Team. You will be asked to bring your original instalment plan up to date and if an arrangement is agreed, it will still include an extra £50.00 in costs because we will still obtain a Liability Order.
An extra £50.00 in costs will be added to your Council Tax account if a Liability Order is issued.
You do not have to attend the Court Hearing but you do have a right to appear in court and tell the Magistrates why you feel you should not pay the Council Tax. However, you should only appear if you have a legal defence, such as:
- The amount demanded has been properly paid,
- The Council has not correctly set the level of Council Tax,
- Insolvency proceedings have commenced.
Reasons such as financial hardship or the failure to receive documents do not prevent a Liability Order.
Once a Liability Order is obtained, we will notify you in writing. If you cannot pay in full, you must contact our Council Tax Recovery Team to discuss the option of a payment arrangement.
The Liability Order gives us the right to recover the debt through the following ways:
Attachment of Earnings/Benefits
An Attachment of Earnings Order is issued so regular deductions can be taken from your wages to clear your Council Tax arrears.
If you receive Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance (income-based), the Council can apply for regular deductions to be made from your Benefits. The Department of Work & Pensions will confirm when deductions will begin and the amount.
Your account may be issued to one of our certified bailiffs for collection. You should contact the bailiff immediately to make a suitable payment arrangement.
- Hammond Hillman Limited - 01702 353863
- Ross & Roberts - 01458 271888
- Newlyns - 01604 633001
The bailiff can seize the debtor's possessions and sell them at auction to pay the outstanding debt and any associated charges.
If your debt is over £750, we may pursue bankruptcy proceedings. The Court makes a Bankruptcy Order following a hearing of the Petition.
A Statutory Demand will be issued, giving you 21 days to pay in full. If you do not settle the Demand, we will present a Petition for bankruptcy. If we issue a Bankruptcy Order against you, the Official Receiver will investigate your affairs, your bank accounts will be frozen, your credit rating will be affected and you could be forced to sell your home to pay your debts.
If your debt is over £1,000, we may apply for a Charging Order on your property through the County Court. This will enable us to force a sale of the property or settle the debt from the proceeds of any future sale.
Committal to Prison
The Council may summons you to a Hearing where the Court will consider your ability to pay your arrears. This could result in a committal to imprisonment.