What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax?
I have received a summons to court
If you receive a summons because you haven't paid your Council Tax, costs of £109 will be added to your account.
At the court hearing, we'll ask the magistrates to issue a liability order against you. This means that the court agrees that you're liable to pay Council Tax at the property in question. A liability order gives us extra powers to collect the money that you owe. We'll also ask the magistrate to add further costs of £12.00.
You can avoid a court hearing if, before the court date if you pay your debt in full (including the £109 costs)
You have the right to attend the magistrates’ court on the hearing date, for a ‘bulk hearing’. This means we've issued a large number of summonses for the same date and time as yours. The court will only hear individual cases if you have a valid defence against the issue of a summons. The courts decide what is a valid defence.
To help you, we have listed the main defences:
- the property named on your summons is not shown as an entry in the valuation list
- the tax has not been properly set
- the amount has not been demanded in accordance with the statutory provisions
- the amount demanded has been paid in full
- more than six years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due
- bankruptcy or winding-up proceedings have been initiated
The magistrates won't take into account if you are able, or not able, to pay.
If the issue is taken to court
If you fail to pay your Council Tax bill and the issue is taken to court, we will request a Liability Order at the hearing for which there will be an additional fee that will be added to your Council Tax bill along with the cost of the court summons and your original bill.
If you have contacted us and made a payment plan we will be able to hold other recovery action pending payment.
After the Liability Order
Once a Liability Order has been granted we will choose one of the following ways to claim the money owed:
- we may take money from your wages (called an Attachment of Earnings)
- we may take money from your other benefits if you have them (called an Attachment of Benefit)
- we may instruct Enforcement Agents (formerly called bailiffs) to take your property
- we may undertake a Bankruptcy or Charging Order – a way of securing your property to pay for the debt
Each action may incur costs and these will be added to the amount owed. If all our efforts fail to recover the money owed we may take action to have you imprisoned.