Council tax enforcement
If you don't pay your council tax we are required by law to recover the debt. Stages of recovering council tax are as follows:
Reminder and Final notices
We will send a reminder notice if you miss an instalment, requesting full payment of the missed instalment within 7 days. If you only pay part of the outstanding amount we will not stop further recovery action and you will receive a final notice (see below).
Second Reminder notice
We will send a second reminder notice if you miss an instalment for the second time in a financial year period, requesting full payment of the missed instalment within 7 days. If you only pay part of the outstanding amount we will not stop further recovery action and you will receive a final notice (see below).
We will send a final notice if you miss an instalment for the third time in a financial year period, or you fail to pay the outstanding amount on a reminder notice or a second reminder notice. At this stage you have lost your right to pay by instalments without the Council applying for a Liability Order (see below).
Court action - liability orders
If court action is required each accountable person on your account will receive a summons at least 14 days before the court hearing. The cost of a summons and liability order is currently £75.
- pay the full the amount and the costs on the summons before the court hearing, no further action will be taken and proceedings will be withdrawn,
- can't pay the full amount immediately, you can contact us to arrange payment on the basis that the application for a liability order and additional costs will still carry on. In these cases we will not take any further action if you continue to pay.
If a liability order is approved, the main ways we can recover the debt are:
Attachment of earnings and benefits
If you are working, we can instruct your employer to deduct the debt from your net earnings. The amount we are able to deduct is set by legislation.
Attachment of benefits
If you are claiming any of the following benefits:
- Income support (IS)
- Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Employment and support allowance
- Pension credits
- Universal credit
We can apply to the department for work and pensions for deduct the debt from your benefits.
Civil enforcement agents
- We can instruct civil enforcement agents to take control of goods so that we can recover council tax debt. This will add further costs onto the existing debt.
- If you pay in full after the civil enforcement agents have been sent but before your goods are sold you should be able to collect your goods.
- For debt over £5,000 we can apply to bankrupt an individual.
- If the insolvency action is successful the debts outstanding are frozen at the date of the court hearing. Once you have been declared bankrupt no further recovery action can be taken against the debt.
- Normal council tax charges will still apply after bankruptcy and if any new debts aren't paid then recovery action will be taken.
- If the debt is more than £1,000 we can apply for a charging order.
- A charging order can be applied for if you are the owner or part-owner of a property.
- The charging order means that once the property is sold and any mortgage paid off, the council tax debt can be claimed from remaining equity. We may be able to to insist on the sale of the property.
Even when we take action to enforce payment of the debt, we will still try to help you if we think that there are some benefits you can claim.