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What happens if I don’t pay my Council Tax?

Help and support to pay your Council Tax and what happens if you are not able to pay.

Help and support

If you are experiencing difficulties in meeting your payments, there is help and support available to you from the Council Tax team. Please call 0300 3030164

Payment options including paying by direct debit are listed below and if you need support to pay your Council Tax or Housing Benefit, please go to the Council Tax and Housing Benefit support page.

Do you need help to pay your Council Tax?

Having enough money to pay your bills can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. If you are finding it hard to pay your account we can help you. Call us as soon as possible on 0300 3030164 and we will work with you to come up with a payment plan.

Our officers will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation. We will always be happy to talk to you about your account and will work with you to find ways to manage your account, even if you think you have no spare money to offer against your debt.

By dealing with your debt, it will help you to feel less stressed and anxious, and more in control.

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to help paying your Council Tax bill. You could be entitled to help from the Council Tax Support Scheme.

Read our frequently asked questions about how we collect unpaid Council Tax.

Unpaid Council Tax

If you are worried about unpaid Council Tax, speak with our Debt Management section.

It is important that you contact us if you are in arrears with your Council Tax account.  This gives us a chance to work together to clear the debt.  Arrangements can be made for you to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly.  If you are not sure how much you can afford please complete our online income and expenditure form below.

We can use enforcement agents, or take money from your wages  [PDF, 43Kb]  to collect the debt. We would prefer to work with you before it gets to this point.

For help with budgeting and managing your money you can use the independent online budget planner at The Money Advice Service. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau also provides details about how to deal with Council Tax arrears.

Mental wellbeing and money worries

Struggling with money and poor mental wellbeing is often linked. Feeling low can make managing money tough. Worrying about it can make you feel even worse. When speaking to us, if you are feeling very low or suicidal, our officers may suggest referring you to the Samaritans.  We have a referral system in place to ensure that you can get the help and support that you need.  You can talk to the Samaritans any time you like, in your own way, and off the record – about whatever is affecting you. Their phone number is 116123.

Going to court

If you have received a Summons Notice from the council, it means that they will ask the court to grant a liability order for unpaid Council Tax. A liability order means that the court agrees that you owe the money and that the council can take steps to collect it. These steps could include seizing goods or taking the money out of your wages or benefit.

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to help paying your Council Tax bill. You could be entitled to help from the Council Tax Support Scheme.

Having enough money to pay your bills can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. If you are finding it hard to pay your account, we can help you. Call us as soon as possible on 0300 3030164  and we will work with you to come up with a payment plan. Complete our income and expenditure form.

Our officers will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation. We will always be happy to talk to you about your account and will work with you to find ways to manage your account, even if you think you have no spare money to offer against your debt.

At present Liability Order hearings are held remotely by audio link. You should not attend a Magistrates Court building.

You could take the following action:

  • Pay off the amount on the summons in full. That will end the case.
  • Do nothing. The council will ask the court to make the liability order in your absence.
  • If you accept that you owe the money, you can make an agreement with the council about how you will pay it (usually in instalments). If you make an agreement to pay with the council, they will still ask the court for a liability order. But if you stick to the agreement, they will not take any other steps (seizing goods etc).

To make an agreement you should contact the council on 0300 3030164  immediately to talk about it, rather than waiting for the court hearing. If you do that, you will probably not need to attend the court hearing as the council will ask the court to make the liability order in your absence. Then they will collect the money as you and the council have agreed.

If you are thinking about disputing the order (instead of paying – perhaps by instalments – or doing nothing) you should read the notes on the back of the summons. They tell you what the council must prove to the court, and what defences you have.

Should you still want to dispute the liability order you must check Liability Order Defences to be sure you have a valid defence, then:

  • Contact the council at least seven days prior to the court hearing and have a discussion with them to explain why you believe you are not liable. If you cannot agree, you will be given a time to attend court by way of a telephone hearing. You will need to make yourself available for this telephone hearing for the full period of time the council will give you. If you are not available and fail to answer the call when the court telephones you the court may make the Liability Order against you in your absence.  If you default on the arrangement made with the council, they will enforce the Liability Order.

Please Note: if you turn up at the Magistrates’ Court without a prior appointment, you may be refused entry and your case may be heard in your absence.

These are not defences to a liability order

Magistrates cannot consider the following questions:

  • whether the council was right to order you to pay council tax on your house.
  • whether you should pay the tax.
  • whether the amount claimed is wrong.
  • whether you should get council tax support (benefit)
  • whether your council tax support has been worked out correctly.

You can appeal against these questions to the council or a tribunal. But you cannot raise them in a liability order hearing.

These are defences which have previously been successful

Council Tax: Local Government Finance Act (1992). Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.

  • There was no entry in relation to the dwelling in the valuation list effective for the period for which the defendant is alleged to have been liable to pay the Council Tax
  • That the tax had not been properly set
  • That the tax had not been demanded in accordance with the statutory provisions or no joint & several taxpayers notice has, where appropriate, been served
  • That the amount demanded has been paid
  • That more than six years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due
  • That the Billing Authority was in breach of the duty to serve notices “as soon as practicable” in the relevant year in compliance with Reg 19(1) of the Admin & Enforcement Regulations
  • That the sum outstanding is in respect of a penalty which is the subject of an appeal or arbitration
    • £70 first failure to supply, or knowing supply false information
    • £280 second failure to supply same information
  • That bankruptcy or winding up proceedings have been initiated.

The Court will issue a liability order if the council has done what it should, and you are the person responsible for the Council Tax at that property but you have not got an acceptable defence.

If you don’t pay your council Tax bill and don’t contact us to help you; we will have to pass the debt to an enforcement agency.  This link shows you what enforcement means and how it works.

Our Debt Management team will provide support and assistance to you where possible, before your account is passed to enforcement agents. We will also try to signpost you to other support agencies who may be able to offer further help. Read more about enforcement officers and their powers within the law.

There are fixed fees which are known in advance so debtors can be advised of what it may cost them should their debt be passed to enforcement agents. The fees apply to Council Tax and Business Rates debt.

If a debt is passed to them for collection, then you must contact the enforcement agent directly to arrange payment.

Take a look at our frequently asked questions about how we collect unpaid Council Tax.

Contact

recovery@northlincs.gov.uk

0300 3030164

Our office is open Monday to Friday: 9am to 4.30pm

If you need to write to us: Council Tax, Hewson House, Station Road, Brigg, DN20 8XB