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Council Tax Arrears

What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities. It is a tax on domestic property; based on the estimated value of the property and the number of people living in it. There are different bands of council Tax.

Council Tax Arrears

You normally pay council tax in instalments over a period of 10 months, weekly or in one lump sum. Council tax should be seen as a priority bill. If you cannot meet payments and build up arrears the local authority normally will want them paid within the financial year. If you cannot afford to do this, you should try and work out exactly what you can afford to pay and draft up a budget sheet. You can then propose an offer of payment to cover the arrears on a special payment arrangement: explain that the amount you are offering will prevent any further arrears and court costs.

If the local authorities will not accept this, you can approach your local councillor for help. You should also continue making your reduced payments.

If you are struggling with your debts and cannot make ANY payment to your council tax arrears you will need to contact your local authority to discuss your situation.. It is extremely important that you keep in contact with your local authority regarding this debt. If your situation is really bad you might want to contact your local councillor and/or your local Citizens Advice Bureau for support in dealing with the local authorities.

Liability Order

If you have Council Tax Arrears the local authority can apply to the magistrates' court for a liability order. The magistrate will then arrange a hearing. You do not have to attend but if the arrears are due to an inability to pay it is a good idea to go to the hearing and explain your circumstances to the magistrate. The liability order will still be granted but if you are summonsed to a committal hearing later on, it will look like a genuine case from the fact you have already explained your circumstances at the earlier hearing.

An application for a liability order will add about £40 to your bill. Once the authority has a liability order they can use a wide of range of enforcement methods to recover the arrears, such as an Attachment of Earnings or Benefits. However, it is never too late to negotiate an arrangement to pay and by doing so you may avoid enforcement. If you have received reminder letters because of late payments, simply contacting the local authority right away can sometimes prevent the issue of a liability order being made against you.

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