Problems paying your bill
We realise that Council Tax can sometimes be a struggle to pay each month, and we want to help you. If you cannot pay your bill, even if this is only for a temporary period, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can discuss your options.
If you’re struggling with other debts or managing your money and would like advice, there are many organisations offering free services who may be able to help you. For a list of these organisations, see the table at the bottom of this page.
What we can do to help you:
- we can look to spread future years over 12 months from April to March. Or discuss a payment arrangement with more suitable payment dates and frequency
- if you are on a low income, you could be eligible for Council Tax Support, we will help you make a claim
- we can check your bill is correct and that you are receiving any relevant discounts or exemptions
- we can consider a temporary hold on our recovery actions or those of our Enforcement Agents
- if you are suffering extreme hardship, you may qualify for a reduction under our Exceptional Hardship Scheme to help pay for your Council Tax
- the council also has powers under S13A 1(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to reduce the amount of Council Tax payable
- if you have other non-council debts, we may ask for your permission to refer your case onto an independent debt advisor.
What happens if I do not pay my Council Tax
Your Council Tax bill has specific amounts and due date(s) that you must pay promptly. Our recovery process is automated, therefore, if you fail to pay on time, you will be automatically sent a reminder or final notice. If you pay in full on receipt of your first reminder you will be sent a second reminder. The law does not require us to send any further reminders if you remain in arrears.
If you do not keep future instalments up to date as detailed on the reminder or pay the full amount, if you receive a final notice, we will arrange for a summons to be issued. Upon issue you will immediately incur court costs of £76.00. These are the costs incurred by us for taking recovery action. If you pay the full balance (including costs) before the date of the court hearing the magistrates will be informed of this. If you do not dispute the debt or make a special payment arrangement there is no need to attend the court hearing.
It may be possible to set up a ‘Special Payment Arrangement’ or temporarily hold your account from further recovery actions at any stage, however, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss your case.
At the telephone court hearing the council will request a Liability Order to be awarded against you. You can contest this in a personal telephone hearing but to must contact the council to arrange this. The council/Magistrates Court would expect you to discuss your cases before the hearing, but you could argue any of the following as a valid defence:
- you have paid the amount in full including costs and you can evidence this
- your property has no band entry in the Valuation List
- the charge has not been set correctly
- the council has not followed statute or regulations
- you can prove your bill/reminders and Summons have not been served correctly
- the council officer is not duly authorised to carry out the court proceedings
- more than six years has elapsed since the original bill was issued
- you are subject to insolvency proceedings
- you can evidence your payment(s) have been allocated elsewhere
It is NOT a valid court defence if:
- you are applying for or appealing against your Council Tax Support award
- you say you simply cannot afford to pay or have made a part payment
- you do not think you are liable for Council Tax (this is a Tribunal decision)
- you are holding onto your payment due to grievance with the Council
- you have appealed your property band to the Valuation Office Agency
Once granted the Liability Order gives the council additional powers to:
- use external Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) – who will charge you a £75 Compliance Fee, should they start recovery action against you. If they must visit additional charges of at least £235 will be added to your account. These amounts are statutory and cannot be refunded once charged
- ask your employer to deduct an amount from your wages, there is an HMRC guide for employers
- ask the Department for Works and Pensions to make payments direct to us if you are in receipt of Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee.
- register outstanding Council Tax as a charge on your property (like a mortgage)
- instigate bankruptcy proceedings
- make an application back to the Magistrates Court for your committal to prison.
Independent, free financial advice
|Name||Services Offered||Website / Telephone|
|Citizens Advice Somerset||Help if you are in debt (they do not give general money management advice).||https://citizensadvicesomerset.org.uk|
0808 27 87842
|The Money Advice Service||Free, confidential debt advice||www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk|
|Step Change Debt Charity||Free debt advice and solutions. Support provided on the phone or online.||www.stepchange.org|
|Christians Against Poverty Services||Free debt counselling. Home visits. Negotiate affordable payments with creditors.||www.capdebthelp.org|
0800 328 0006
|National Debtline||Free, confidential debt advice.||www.nationaldebtline.co.uk|
|Payplan||Free, confidential advice on debt problems.||www.payplan.com|
|Shelter||Housing and legal advice. Budgeting advice.||www.shelter.org.uk|