Council Tax billing, collection and enforcement
Each year a Council Tax charge is levied for each residential property. This amount is set by the Local Authority in which the property stands. The owner of the property, or the tenant, will be issued with a Demand Notice – they are the ‘liable person’.
The Demand Notice will tell you what to pay, how to pay and when to pay. If you fail to pay then they will be sent at least one Reminder Notice to prompt payment. A failure to comply with the Reminder Notice will lose you the right to pay by instalments and a Court Summons can be issued.
If a Court Summons is issued then you must pay in full or a Liability Order will be granted by the Magistrate’s Court. The Liability Order will allow the Local Authority to take legal action to force payment from you.
What is a Council Tax Demand Notice ?
The Council Tax Demand Notice is the ‘bill’ or ‘invoice’ for payment of your Council Tax. It will tell you how much you owe, how you can pay and exactly when and what you should pay.
The Demand Notice is sent to the person who the Local Authority believe is ‘liable’ for the Council Tax charge. This person is legally responsible for ensuring that payment is made as required. If you believe you are not liable for the charge then you can dispute this point. Where required this Demand Notice and Council Tax charge can be backdated.
Any discounts, exemptions or Council Tax Support that has been awarded will be shown on the Council Tax Demand Notice. Each time there is a change in circumstances a revised Demand Notice will be sent to you. Until an actual date is confirmed with the council any Council Tax Demand Notice will always assume that the stated circumstances will remain the same until the end of the year.
What if I don’t pay my Council Tax Demand ?
If you do not pay the Council Tax as shown on the Demand Notice then the right to pay instalments can be withdrawn. This means you would have to pay the full balance for the remainder of the year or face court.
Before you lose the right to pay by instalments you will be sent a maximum of two Reminder Notices to prompt payment. When either of these notices is not complied with then a Court Summons can be issued. If you pay the Reminder Notices but then default a third time you will be sent a Final Notice which gives 7 days notice to pay in full or receive a Court Summons. If the Demand Notice shows you are only entitled to one instalment then you would be issued a Final Notice, instead of a Reminder Notice.
When, after being issued a Reminder or Final Notice, you still haven’t made the required payment you will receive a Court Summons. This Court Summons will give you 14 days notice of a hearing at the Magistrates’ Court. You must pay the full balance, including any costs, prior to the court hearing to prevent further enforcement action.
On the date of the Magistrate’s Court hearing the Local Authority will apply for a Liability Order (This is not a CCJ). The Liability Order is a court order to allow the council to use a range of legal powers to recover the balance due. It should be noted that the Magistrates’ Court have only limited legal powers to refuse to grant a Liability Order and cannot consider most disputes. If a Liability Order is granted then permission is given to the Local Authority to use a range of legal powers, each of which allows them to try to recover the unpaid Council Tax. These powers range from a payment arrangement through to committal to prison for non-payment.
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This article is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax agents and experts, based on our interpretation of legislation. Your local authority is free to dispute this view. A binding decision may require the intervention of a valuation tribunal.