Council Tax & Business Rates
Has a bailiff visited you to collect Council Tax or Business Rates? This guide can help.
If you miss council tax or business rate payments you will be in arrears. Your local council will take steps to recover the amounts owed which may result eventually in bailiff action.
Here are some simple steps you can take to get back on track with your council tax payments. If you are in arrears and you have recieved a notice of enforcement from a bailiff already there are still steps you can take to avoid losing your belongings and incurring bailiff fees.
Get in touch with your council as soon as you become aware that you are either in arrears or are struggling to pay your council tax or business rates. Most council tax bills are paid monthly over 10 months, this means that you can choose to pay your council tax over 12 months to reduce the monthly amount. This is a good way to make council tax more affordable in the short term.
If you still can't afford what you owe check to see if you could apply for a Council Tax Reduction or a reduced council tax bill. You may be eligible for a reduction of your rates if you have a low income or recieve state benefits. If you live on your own you also benefit from a reduced council tax bill.
What happens if I still don't pay?
If you actually miss a council tax payment your council will write to you and give you 7 days' notice to make payment. If you are unable to make the monthly instalment payment in that period your council will write to you again and ask you to pay the council tax for the whole year.
If you do make the first payment but miss another payment another month you will be reminded again and given another 7 days to pay. You will receive a maximum of 2 reminder notices in one year. If you miss a payment for a third time you will have to pay the council tax for the whole year.
If you cannot or do not pay the council tax for the whole year the council will start to take legal action to recover the debt. This is likely to start with your council asking a magistrate for a liability order. A liability order is a legal demand for payment which may also include any legal costs such as the cost of hiring a lawyer. You may go to court to explain why you have been unable to pay the council tax.
If you are employed or your receive benefits the council tax you owe can be deducted at source by your employer or from the following benefits:
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
This may mean that you do not have enough income to pay your other bills such as rent, water or electricity bills. If this is the case ask your council if you can make smaller payments. Your council does not have to agree to help you but in most cases they will make an arrangement with you.
If you continue to be unable to pay your council can instruct a bailiff to recover the debt. Be aware that bailiffs will also charge you fees.
Your council can also take you to court if you do not pay. If the court finds that you can afford to pay the bill and that you did not have a valid reason not to pay you may have to go do prison for 3 months.