Council Tax

The Council Tax Bill

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You are sent a bill for every financial year (1st April - 31st March). It shows the amount due less any discounts and Council Tax Support. It shows the instalments that must be paid.

When issuing a bill at the beginning of a new financial year the Council will offer ten instalments. If you become liable during the year you will be billed from the date that your liability starts until the end of the financial year and the number of instalments offered will depend on the number of months left in the year.

Due to a change in Legislation there is however now the option to pay your Council Tax over a 12 month period  instead of a 10 month period.

Instalments must be made as specified on your bill or recovery action will be taken. You are expected to make financial arrangements so that instalments are made by the due dates and the Council will not normally make alternative arrangements. Even if you have a query about your bill, you must pay your instalments until the query is resolved and a revised bill is sent to you. If you are unhappy with Council services you must still pay your bill. You may of course complain to the department concerned.

What if the bill is wrong? 

If you think the bill is wrong in any way you should tell your council immediately. Unless you make other arrangements with the Council, you must continue to pay the amounts set out in your original bill until you are sent a revised bill.

What if the amount I have to pay changes during the year? 

If the amount of Council Tax you have to pay changes during the year, perhaps because your entitlement to a discount or benefit changes, you will get a new bill. This will tell you what the new amount for the year is, and what instalments you now have to pay.

What if I have trouble paying the bill? 

As soon as you realise you have a problem paying your bill you should talk to your council. You may be entitled to a reduction in your bill, for example, through Council Tax Support. Do not ignore the bill or any reminders about payment you may receive. If you do not pay the instalments due and fail to discuss the situation with the Council, they may take recovery action that could increase considerably the amount you have to pay.

What if I don't pay? 

If you miss a Council Tax instalment you will get a reminder notice giving you seven days to bring your Council Tax payments up to date. If you do not do so within the time, or if after a second reminder you fall behind with your payments again, you will have to pay the outstanding balance of your Council Tax bill (i.e. the full amount for the rest of the year). If the balance is not paid, we will start recovery action.

What action can the local authority take?

We can apply to the Magistrates' court for a liability order. You will be sent a summons telling you when the court will consider the application and the amount the Council is seeking to recover. This will be both the outstanding amount of Council Tax plus the cost to the council of making the application. You have the right to attend the court and offer evidence as to why the order should not be made.

Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to your council or, if you prefer, a local Citizens Advice Bureau. They will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment but cannot do that unless you contact them. If you make an arrangement and stick to it, you will avoid any further recovery costs. 
 

What powers does the liability order give the council? 

When a liability order is granted by the Magistrates court the Council can demand certain information from you about your employment and earnings to help decide how to recover the debt. You are legally required to give the Council this information and we will advise you how it may help you pay the bill. 

What if I think my bill is wrong?

You may appeal against any decision your Council has taken by writing in with details of why you think your debt is incorrect. However, you should continue to pay your original Council Tax bill while your appeal is outstanding. 

Contact the Council Tax team for further advice.