What happens if you pay late or don't pay your Council Tax?
Your Council Tax bill shows how much you need to pay and when your payments are due. You must pay in accordance with the bill and if you pay through the bank make sure you quote your reference number.
If you do not pay your instalments when they are due, you will be sent a reminder telling you to bring your account up to date. If you are having difficulty in keeping up to date with your instalments then we may be able to set a payment arrangement with you.
Only two reminders are sent in any year so you will not receive one for each month. If your account becomes overdue for a third time a final notice will be issued.
If you do not pay the amount stated on a Reminder by the due date or you have already had two Reminders you will receive a Final Notice. This takes away your right to pay by instalments and your remaining balance should be paid in within 7 days.
If you are unable to pay the balance in full we may be able to offer a payment arrangement.
If you do not pay the full balance or agree a payment arrangement with us to clear the balance of your account, a Summons will be issued.
If after sending a final notice FULL payment is not received or an acceptable payment arrangement made, you will receive a Court Summons. This will add costs of £50.00 (plus £0.50 for additional payers) to your account.
If you do not pay the balance in full by the court hearing date, (stated on the summons), a Liability Order will normally be issued against you by the Magistrates. A further £45.00 will then be added to your account for the issue of this order.
The Magistrates are unable to make payment arrangements with you. You do not need to attend Court unless you feel that you have been billed incorrectly and you have not been able to resolve this with us.
You can set up a payment arrangement by contacting us. Please note that any payment arrangements at this stage will include all costs.
Once a Liability order has been granted by the Magistrates, we will write and tell you. If you want to make a payment arrangement now you will need to complete a form that details your income and outgoings. If you do not return the form or you fail to keep to an agreed payment arrangement we will continue with recovery action.
A Liability order gives us the right to recover the debt from you in a number of ways, including:-
- Deductions direct from your Earnings or Benefits (Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit)
- Passing your account to the Council's appointed Enforcement Agent
- Commencing bankruptcy proceedings against you
- Obtaining a charging order, where you own your property
Attachment to Earnings
We may ask your employer to deduct the Council Tax you owe from your salary and send it directly to us. The amounts to be deducted will depend on your earnings and the deductions will continue until you have paid in full the amount you owe.
By law, your employer must comply with the Attachment of Earnings order, and once the order has been issued, we will not withdraw the order until your debt is cleared, even if you wish to make an alternative payment arrangement with us.
Deductions from Benefits
If you are receiving certain benefits (see above) we can apply to the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) for amounts (up to £14.80 per month) to be deducted and to be paid direct to us.
Enforcement Agent Action
If we are unable to make a suitable payment arrangement with you or collect your Council Tax directly from your Earnings or Benefit we may pass your account to an Enforcement Agent. Once this action is taken you will have to contact the Enforcement Agent direct to discuss payment of your account. Please be advised that Enforcement Agents have the right to remove your goods and sell them to clear your debt if a suitable payment arrangement is not made with them.
As well as the outstanding Council Tax you owe and Court Costs added, the Enforcement Agent will add their statutory fees to your account, further increasing your debt.
Our Corporate Debt Strategy found here sets out more information about how we collect outstanding debts.