If you do not maintain your council tax payments, the council will summons you for payment in full. If the outstanding debt is not paid, the council will obtain a liability order granted by the Magistrates Court. This liability order allows the council to take any of the following enforcement actions.
Enforcement agent action
New legislation came into force in April 2014 with standard enforcement agent fees. If they are instructed to recover the outstanding debt, you will be liable for the following fees:
- Compliance fee – fixed £75
- Enforcement fee – £235 plus 7.5% of the debt over £1,500
- Sale of goods fee – £110 plus 7.5% of the debt over £1,500
Enforcement agents (bailiffs) can remove goods belonging to the council tax payer named on the liability order. Removed items are sold at auction to recover the debt. If this happens, fees 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 can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions to have money deducted from benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credit.
Attachment to your earnings
The Council can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages to recover your unpaid council tax. The amount deducted is based on a percentage of your take home pay.
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 enforcement agent (bailiff) action (for example there were insufficient goods to remove or the enforcement agents 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 Magistrate believes that there has been wilful refusal or neglect to pay then the council tax payer can be sent to prison for up to 90 days. The court can also place an order to pay the outstanding debt over a fixed period of time.