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What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax?

  • Billing and collection policy
  • Bills and reminders
  • Summons and liability orders
  • Attachment of earnings
  • Deductions from benefits
  • Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)
  • Insolvency
  • Charging orders
  • Committal proceedings

 

Billing and Collection Policy

The Revenues and Benefits Service has a Billing and Collection Policy  (currently under revision) that explains in detail how Council Tax is billed and collected. A summary of the policy is as follows:

 

If you have problems paying your Council Tax at any stage of the process, we will consider making an arrangement with you, but you need to give us your employment and income details.

We are not legally obliged to make payment arrangements, and only consider them as part of our effort to ensure that all Council Tax payers are treated fairly and objectively.

This approach to collecting the Council Tax enjoys cross-party political support in Leicester as we try to increase the amount of Council Tax we collect each year.

We will try to help you if we think you may not be claiming any discount, exemption or Benefits you are entitled to.

 

There are several Advice Organisations in Leicester that can offer advice about managing your financial affairs, including Council Tax  

We also advise you take care when borrowing money and avoid loan sharks.

 

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Bills and Reminders

A bill is sent for the annual charge (1st April – 31st March) and you then have the right to pay by up to a maximum of ten monthly instalments. If you miss a payment we will take action to recover the money.
    
We will send a reminder notice for any unpaid instalment shortly after it is due. The overdue amount must be paid within seven days.
    
If the overdue amount is not paid, you will lose the right to pay by instalments after a further seven days. No further reminders will be sent and we will send you a Court summons that includes at least £70.00 costs that you will need to pay in addition to the charges that are due.
   
If you bring your account up to date within seven days of the reminder you can still pay by monthly instalments as shown on your bill.
    
If you fall behind again we will send a second reminder asking you to bring your account up to date. If the overdue amount is not paid, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. No further reminders will be sent and we will send you a Court summons that includes at least £70.00 costs that you will need to pay in addition to the charges that are due.
    
If you bring your account up to date within seven days of the second reminder you can still pay by monthly instalments as shown on your bill, but:
    
No more than two reminder notices will be sent in the year.
    
If you bring your account up to date after the second reminder but do not pay as shown on your bill for the third time, you will be sent a final notice for the year’s charge that is due. If the overdue amount is not paid we will send you a summons on behalf of the Magistrates' Court that includes at least £67.50 costs that you will need to pay in addition to the outstanding charge. At final notice stage unlike reminder stage it is no longer sufficient to just pay any instalments that are overdue.

 

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The Summons and Liability Order

If you are sent a summons you will also have to pay at least £70.00 summons costs. This is the amount the Court has agreed we can charge you for the time and cost it takes to produce and issue the summons.The costs amount is reviewed annually.
    
We will give you at least fourteen days notice of the Court hearing date. We will take no further action if the outstanding charge and costs are paid in full before the hearing.
    
You do not have to go to the Court if you know the Council Tax charge is correct, but you have not paid it. You can go to Court if you do not agree the charge is payable for any of the following reasons:

  • The property the charge is for is not in the Valuation List that shows all the residential properties in the City. (You do have to pay if you have an appeal outstanding against the Council Tax band for your home that is shown in the List.)
  • The Council Tax has not been set correctly.
  • The Council Tax bill did not show the correct instalments you needed to pay.
  • The charge has been paid.
  • Over six years have passed since the Council Tax charge became due.

   
If the Magistrates agree that the unpaid charge is correct and payable they will grant a liability order against you for non-payment.
    
We will send you a letter that confirms the liability order has been granted, how much you now owe, and that you now have 14 days to give certain financial information and make an arrangement to pay.

 

It is a criminal offence not to give these details. The letter will also show the Enforcement Agent costs that you will be charged if we need to ask them to collect the Council Tax for us (see below). If you pay in full within the fourteen days you will avoid being charged the Enforcement Agent costs.

 

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Dependent on the financial information given, our next action will be one of the following enforcement options:
 

1. Attachment of Earnings

We can contact your employer to take money direct from your salary or wages to pay the charge outstanding. The amount taken will be based on how much you earn, and your employer can be fined if they fail to make the deductions. To see the level of deductions that may be made click here.

 

A set of Guidance Notes for Employees is sent to people who are having deductions made from their earnings.

 

There is also a set of Guidance Notes for Employers detailing their responsibilities if an attachment is made.

 

 

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2. Deductions From Benefits

We can contact the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) to take a set amount of money direct from your Income Support , Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), Pension Credit or Employment Support Allowance to pay the charge outstanding. 
 

3. Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)

If the first two options are not effective we will ask an Enforcement Agent to collect the charge for us. This will immediately incur fees of £75. From this stage you must discuss any payment issues directly with the Enforcement Agent instead of us, but the Enforcement Agent will work within a Code of Conduct that we have agreed with them. 

    
The Enforcement Agent will try to make an arrangement with you to pay the charge outstanding. If this cannot be done, or you do not pay as agreed then you will incur further fees of at least £235 and the Enforcement Agent can take control of goods in your home.

 

If you still do not make an arrangement to pay, the Enforcement Agent may remove the controlled goods from your home to sell at auction to raise the funds to pay the charge and the fees. You will incur further fees of at least £110, plus the costs of holding the auction, storage fees and any other fees reasonably incurred by the Enforcement Agent.
 

 

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4. Insolvency

If the above options are not effective and you owe more than £750.00 we can enter a petition against you to have you declared bankrupt. Your home could be sold if we have to take this action, and you may be charged several thousand pounds legal fees.
 

5. Charging Order

If you have a debt of £1,000 or more and you own your home, we can apply to the County Court to place a charge on your home. Any Council Tax charges included in the order will be paid automatically to us when the sale completes.

 

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6. Committal Proceedings

We will ask the Magistrates to summons you to appear at the Court to explain why you have still not paid the charge. If we have to do this you will be charged a minimum further £240.00 costs.
    
If you do not come to Court a warrant for your arrest (backed with bail) will be issued. You will be charged a minimum further £75.00 costs for the issue of the warrant.
    
The Court will look at your income and expenditure and order you to make set payments to us. If you fail to pay as ordered you will be arrested and the Magistrates will consider imprisoning you for up to three months.

 

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