Problems Paying Council Tax?
Before you get a Summons
If you have already received a summons, please go to the ‘When you've had a summons’ category.
We will try to accept an offer that is realistic based on your means. If you have received your annual bill, a reminder or a final notice and are unable to clear your bill within the current financial year, please complete and return an Income and Expenditure form along with a payment proposal. You also need to include three months bank statements, or evidence that you have sought financial help and are working through a financial plan in order to help you with your current financial circumstances.
If you don’t pay Council Tax after we have sent you a reminder and/or a final notice, then we will ask the Magistrates Court to issue a summons.
As soon as the summons is issued, a cost of £60 is added to your account. The summons will tell you the time, place and date of the hearing where the magistrates will decide whether they should issue a liability order against you. The summons will tell you the amount owed, the period of time it is for, and the costs you have to pay.
If you pay the amount shown on the summons in full, including the £60 costs, before the hearing, your case will not go to court. If you don’t pay the full amount on the summons, and the magistrates decide to issue a liability order against you, then an extra £50 costs could be added to your account.
Do I have to go to Court?
No. The magistrates will hear all the cases listed on the court list whether people attend or not.
Can I dispute the summons?
What is a Liability Order?
Is a Liability Order always granted/awarded?
- The Council Tax has not been properly set
- The property is not entered in the Valuation List
- The total amount of the summons has been paid in full – and a receipt is available and shown
- Bills and reminders have not been sent (this is not the same as not being received)
- You're exempt from paying Council Tax
- You're not the person who is liable to pay the Council Tax that you have been summonsed for (this does not include minor mistakes like spelling of name or title)
- Bankruptcy, winding up proceedings have commenced or an Administration Order/Debt Relief Order has been made and the Council Tax debt is included
- The application for a liability order was made more than six years after the first demand was issued
Should I contact you if I have a valid defence?
- You have money problems and can’t afford to pay or you think Council Tax is unfair
- You have applied for Council Tax support, a discount or an exemption and you have not heard anything yet
- You think the Council Tax band for the property is wrong you have appealed to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)
- You should still pay the amounts shown on the notices sent to you
The Magistrates will not take your financial situation into account when making their decision, or hear an argument unless it is a valid defence. We will take your financial situation into account when discussing how you are going to repay this debt. This is why it is important to contact us immediately when you get the summons.
What happens when a liability Order is granted/awarded?
- Requesting personal financial information which may include carrying out a search with a credit agency for information
- Instructing enforcement agents (previously named bailiffs) to visit your home to recover the debt - they will send you a Notice of Enforcement which will include a financial statement form, asking for full payment or an acceptable payment arrangement. At this point you will incur fees of £75.00. However, if a personal visit to your home is required in an effort to get payment then additional fees of £235.00 will be incurred
- Contacting your employer to have money taken directly from your earnings
- Contacting the DWP to have money taken directly from your benefits. This is not possible with benefits such as Incapacity Benefit, but can be deducted from ESA, JSA, Income Support, Universal Credit and Guaranteed Credit
- Applying for a charging order on your property with Land Registry (sale could be forced to pay your Council Tax arrears - this will incur further costs)
- Applying to make you bankrupt (this will incur further costs)
- Applying to the Magistrates Court for your committal to prison
When you've had a summons
We will try to accept an offer that is realistic based on your means. If you have received a summons or notice of Liability Order you will need to complete and return an Income and Expenditure form, along with three months bank statements and an offer of payment.
If our Recovery Team need to ask you for further evidence or information to support your offer of payment, they will contact you directly.
Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)
- £75 Compliance fee, charged on receipt of a Liability Order from us and
- £235 Enforcement fee, charged when the agent visits your property for the first time
Attachment of Earnings
If a Liability Order has been signed it gives us permission to take a percentage of your earnings directly from your employer.
If all other options fail, a summons may be issued for you to attend Maidstone Magistrates’ Court for a committal hearing.
If the outcome of this hearing considers you should have paid your Council Tax, a warrant of commitment may be issued, which will mean you have to go to prison for up to three months. Again, this will mean you have to pay extra costs.