What happens if I do not pay my Council Tax?
Are you having difficulty paying your Council Tax?
The first thing you should do is contact the Council, our details are below. We may be able to rearrange your instalments to make them more manageable. We can also tell you about any discounts or other reductions you may be entitled to. If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction.
Do you have debts with other companies or organisations?
If you are having general problems managing your finances and paying your bills then you can contact the local Citizens Advice Bureau for some independent advice, or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk for information on their services.
What happens if I do not pay on time?
If you do not pay an instalment on time we will send you a reminder notice. This will tell you how much to pay to bring your instalments up to date. You will only receive two Reminder notices in any financial year so it is important to make arrangements to ensure your Council Tax is paid on time.
Why does the Council send Reminder Notices?
The Council is required by law to collect Council Tax. If the Council Tax is not paid to us on time, we may have problems paying Hampshire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Hampshire Fire & Rescue Authority and the parish councils their share of the Council Tax.
What if I receive a Reminder Notice?
When you receive a reminder, you must pay the amount of arrears within seven days. If you do not do this, then you will receive a summons after a further seven days asking you to pay the whole amount for the year immediately. You will incur costs if a summons is issued to you.
Please try to pay your instalments before you get a reminder as under the rules for Council Tax you are only allowed two reminders each financial year.
I've had two Reminder Notices, what happens next?
After you have been sent two reminders in a financial year, you will not be sent anymore. If you pay late a third time, you will receive a Final Notice or a Summons, depending on the amount and instalments which you have outstanding. This means you have forfeited your right to continue paying monthly and the full amount for the year is due immediately.
What if I receive a Final Notice?
This means you can no longer pay monthly as you have lost your right to pay by instalments. The whole amount for the year is due immediately. If you do not do this, then you will receive a Summons after a further seven days which will add costs to your outstanding debt.
What if I receive a summons?
If you do not make your monthly payments on time, or you do not pay the full amount requested on a final notice, we will apply to the local Magistrates' court for a summons. The summons shows the amount due and when the court hearing will be. It also advises of the costs that are payable due to the issue of the summons. These are currently £60.
You need to pay the full amount on the summons (to our office) before the hearing date if you do not want your case to be taken before the court. We can agree a payment arrangement with you at this stage but on the understanding that we are still applying for the liability order and further costs of £50 will be payable by you.
What happens at court?
If you do not pay the amount on the summons before the hearing date, your case will be taken to the magistrates' court.
We will ask the Magistrates' to issue a Liability Order against you, which enables us to collect the money from you in a number of other ways. You will be charged £50 costs for the issue of a Liability Order. This is on top of the £60 you were charged for the issue of the summons.
You do not have to attend the court hearing if you do not want to dispute your liability. The liability order can be issued even if you are not present.
Contact us for a Payment Arrangement
If a liability order is granted we would prefer to agree a payment arrangement with you rather than proceed with one of the recovery options below. It is very important you keep to this payment arrangement. The £110.00 costs will be included in the repayments. We often ask for your employment details as a back up to the arrangement. You can pay this arrangement by Direct Debit.
What is a Liability Order and what happens next?
The Liability Order enables the Council to collect the Council Tax arrears from you in a number of ways. We will choose one of these options if you do not contact us for a payment arrangement.
Our options are:
- To request information
You are required by law to give details of your employment and any benefits you receive. We will send you a form to fill out with your income and expenditure details.
- Attachment of Job Seekers Allowance / Income Support
We can ask the Benefits Agency to take money direct from your job seekers allowance, income support, pension credit or employment support allowance. The current weekly deduction is £3.75.
- Attachment of Earnings
We can order your employer to take deductions from your wages or salary until the debt is repaid. Your employer is required by law to comply. They can charge you £1 each time they make a deduction.
- Use of Enforcement Agents
We employ external agents to collect Council Tax arrears from the companies Ross & Roberts Ltd and Rossendales Ltd. They will try to make a payment arrangement with you or to find out your income details. They will give you details of the fees that you will have to pay them. They may ask to enter your home to make a list of the goods you own and could then return later to remove and sell those goods. Always remember to ask for identification when someone calls to your door. Please note that Enforcement Agent fees can be significant.
Winchester City Council can start these proceedings against you.
- Charging Order
We can apply to the County Court for a Charging Order if you own a property. When the property is sold we would receive the money you owe. You must owe us at least £1000 for this to be an option.
- Committal to Prison
We can summons you back to the Magistrates' Court to attend a committal hearing. The Magistrates' will examine your means (income and circumstances) now and at the time of the arrears. The Magistrates' may decide that you should have paid the debt and could issue a warrant of commitment, placing you in prison for up to three months. They may suspend the imprisonment if they wish to make a payment arrangement with you (suspended order).
It would be wise to contact us before your arrears reach this stage.
- Keeping us informed
Please contact us if you are having problems paying your Council Tax each month or have a change of circumstances affecting your ability to continue with a payment arrangement.
- To request information