Council tax reminder, summons and court proceedingsLast updated: 29 April 2013 13:10 UK
If you have any difficulty paying your council tax please get in touch as soon as you can - we are happy to talk about the situation and discuss a short-term payment plan with you. Follow the link to our contact us page and scroll down to council tax.
Portsmouth City Council will recover unpaid council tax.
We'll write to remind you that it needs to be paid and, if the money is not forthcoming, will issue a summons for you to attend a hearing at the Magistrates Court. If the amount summonsed is not paid in full, with costs, after the hearing, or if you do not keep to the payment plan you have arranged with us, there are several other actions we can take. The consequences of each of these stages are explained here:
Council tax reminders
If you do not pay your instalments on the due date we will issue a reminder notice. If the missed payments are not then caught up within 7 days, you will not only lose the right to pay monthly but the total remaining charge will also become due. If, after receiving a reminder, you then bring your instalments up to date but subsequently fall behind again, a second reminder will be issued.
Council tax final notice
If you catch up with your instalments but then fall behind again, you will be issued with a final notice (not another reminder) and will lose your right to pay your remaining council tax by instalments. The whole remaining debt will then become due within 7 days. Failure to pay after receiving any of these notices will result in a complaint being made to the Magistrates Court for the issue of a summons. This can result in further recovery action being taken against you.
Council tax summons
If you receive a summons you do not need to attend court, but you are required to pay the sum due, plus costs, straight away. There's helpful information about what to do if you receive a summons in the leaflet 'Important information about your summons' at the bottom of this page.
If you do not pay the whole balance before the date of the summons hearing, the Council will apply to the Magistrates Court for a liability order to recover both the unpaid sum of council tax and reasonable council costs linked to the summons. These costs could be for example, administration, staff time or court costs. In most circumstances, these costs cannot be removed – they have to be paid as well as the original outstanding council tax.
If you then make a reasonable arrangement to pay the outstanding amount, including the costs, you must keep up the arrangement, to prevent the Council taking further action to recover the money.
Further recovery action
The Council can take further action if the amount summoned is not paid in full, with costs, or if you do not keep to the payment plan you have arranged with us.
Bailiffs can take goods belonging to the council tax payer named on the liability order and sell the items at auction. If this happens, costs will be incurred to cover the cost of, for example, storage and auctioneer fees.
However, if an arrangement to pay can be agreed, the goods can be kept on the premises whilst the outstanding liability is cleared.
|Deductions from benefit||
The council may be able to apply to have money deducted from benefits such as jobseekers’ allowance, income support or pension credit.
Attachment to your earnings
The council can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages toward your unpaid council tax.
|Security for unpaid council tax||
The council can make an application to the County Court to secure a charge on a property that has accrued debt. This agreement will include any future council tax due, plus interest.
If the debt is more than £1000, action can be taken to bankrupt an individual or wind up a company.
If the debt is not cleared even after bailiff action (which could be, for example, because there were insufficient goods or the bailiffs were unable to gain entry), then a committal summons can be issued.
The council tax payer on the liability order will then be required to appear in court and give details, under oath, of their financial details. Failure to appear at court will result in an arrest warrant being issued.
If the Magistrates believe that there has been wilful refusal or neglect to pay then the person can be sent to prison for up to 90 days. The court can also place an order to pay over a period of time.