What happens if you don't pay

What happens if I don't pay?

When we sent you your council tax bill we told you how much you had to pay and when. If you do not pay as requested we will send you a reminder notice. If you are making regular payments, but are paying later than the dates shown on your council tax bill, you may receive a reminder notice because your payments are late. If you want to change the date your payment is due please contact us.

What happens if I don't pay the amount I am asked to pay on my reminder notice?

You must pay the amount shown on the reminder within seven days, this will bring your account up to date, then you need to pay all your instalments on time in future, or you may lose the right to pay by instalments. If you don't pay the amount due your name can be sent to the magistrates' court for a summons to be issued to you for non payment of council tax. Details of your council tax debt may also be passed to a debt collection agency to recover the debt on behalf of the council.

What happens if I don't pay the amount I am asked to pay on my final notice?

You must pay the full amount you are asked to pay on the final notice within seven days as you have lost the right to pay by instalments as you have not paid your instalments at the due time. If you don't pay the amount due your name can be sent to the magistrates' court for a summons to be issued to you for non payment of council tax.

Do I have to go to court?

It is your right to appear in court if you have been summoned. However, you do not have to attend a court hearing but, the council will still request that liability order costs are awarded against you. 

If you intend to attend the court hearing it may be advisable to contact the customer contact centre to discuss your account. 

If you do not attend the hearing will go ahead without you and the liability order will be applied for (unless you have already paid the account in full). 

If you choose to go to the court hearing, the magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted. 

The defences that the magistrates will take into account before deciding to grant a liability order are shown below: 

  • The property is not listed with the Valuation Office Agency for the period that council tax is being charged
  • The council tax has not been properly set
  • The demand notice and subsequent recovery notices were not issued correctly
  • The amount on the summons has been paid in full
  • More than six years have passed since the demand notice was issued
  • The demand notice was not served as soon as practicable in the relevant year
  • The amount on the summons is for a penalty which is being appealed

The council only has to prove notices were sent to you. We do not have to prove that you have received them. 

If you do not have a valid defence, the magistrates will grant a liability order. 

The following are not valid defences: 

  • I do not think that I should have to pay
  • I cannot afford to pay
  • I have submitted an application for a discount, exemptions or relief
  • I have an outstanding claim or appeal for council tax reduction
  • I have an outstanding appeal with the valuation tribunal

What is a liability order?

A liability order is granted by the courts to a council in order to give the council more powers to help them to recover outstanding council tax. 

A liability order allows us to take any of the following action if you do not pay your council tax. 

We can: 

  • demand for information about your job or benefits
  • take money from your wages
  • take money from certain state benefits
  • take money from your allowance if you are an elected member of a council
  • use enforcement agents who may take your goods to sell to cover the amount you owe
  • ask for a 'charging order' to be made against your property
  • make you bankrupt, or put a company into liquidation
  • apply for you to be sent to prison 

Certain recovery action may increase the amount you owe by adding costs, in order to avoid these additional costs you should pay your council tax account on time.

Having payment difficulties?

If you're having trouble making your council tax payments, see our struggling to pay your council tax page. 

Are you struggling with money? Need help with rent or council tax? Don't know where to turn? Why not come along to one of our BetterOff coffee and chat sessions.

Make a payment

If you're able to make a payment now see our how to pay page for all the different ways you can pay.

This page was last updated on 26 June 2019

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