We all pay council tax. It does not matter if you are a homeowner or tenant, council tax debt is a long-term commitment to your income.
You need to know three things:
- The valuation band of your property
- How much does your local council charge for that band?
- Whether you can get an exemption from on full council tax (Discount or Exception)
A full Council Tax debt is based on at least 2 adults living in a home. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill. You may notice that council tax is normally addressed in joint names if you are living with your partner/family.
You’ll get 25% off your bill if you count as an adult for Council Tax and either:
- you live on your own
- no-one else in your home counts as an adult
You’ll usually get a 50% discount if no one living in your home, including you, counts as an adult.
You won’t have to pay any Council Tax if everyone in your home, including you, is a full-time student.
If you’ve missed a Council Tax payment, you’re in ‘arrears’ or “council tax debt” – this means you owe money to your council. It is advised that should contact your council as early as possible. Council tax debt is a government debt which you are fully responsible to pay.
Don’t wait for them to contact you. You should contact your council straight away. Ask to speak to someone in the Council Tax debt office and tell them about your situation. It is advised to write a letter or an email to your council tax debt department, explaining your financial situation and reasons for debt arrears.
If you ignore Council Tax Debt, it’s likely your council will take you to court quickly to get all the council tax debt at once. You’ll have to pay court costs and possibly bailiff fees as well as your debt, which can add hundreds of pounds to your bill.
If you can’t pay your Council Tax Debt
Ask your council if they’ll let you pay your Council Tax debt in smaller or an affordable amount for a few months, it may be best to suggest that you confirm that you will pay your regular council tax and pay an affordable amount on top of clear your council tax debt.
If you’re on a low income, you might be able to get a reduction on your Council Tax bill.
When you miss a Council Tax Payment
You’ll get a reminder from the council about 2 weeks after you miss a payment.
If you pay within 7 days, you don’t need to do anything else. The debt will be clear, and you’ll be able to continue paying your Council Tax debt in instalments.
If you don’t pay within 7 days of the reminder
If you don’t pay within 7 days of the reminder (or if it’s the third time you’ve been late with Council Tax debt payments this year), the council will send you a “final notice”.
The final notice will tell you to pay all your Council Tax debt for the rest of the year within 7 days.
If you don’t pay within 7 days of the final notice of Council Tax Debt
Your council will usually apply to the courts for permission to collect the council tax debt from you – this is known as a “liability order”. They might send a bailiff to your home or take money from your pay.
The court can also take money from benefit payments like income support, ESA, Pension credit and universal credit.
If the court gives the council a liability order, you’ll have to pay the cost of the court fees. You might also have to pay bailiff fees, which can significantly increase your overall council tax arrear liability.
If you receive a liability order and a bailiff company is instructed to recover council tax arrear. There are the following important tips when dealing with such council tax arrear.
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To know more about Repayment arrears and debt collection activities please read our blog post: