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You are here:home > Living > Council Tax > Billing and debt recovery

Billing and debt recovery

Council tax bills are issued annually to every domestic property for the years charge 1st April to 31st March. As council tax is a daily charge new occupiers are charged from the day they become liable for a property to the following 31st March.

The annual charge can be paid by monthly instalments with optional instalment dates of 1st, 8th, 15th, 23rd. You should ensure your full instalment reaches us by the due date or within 7 days. If you pay by Direct Debit your instalments will be collected automatically each year. A downloadable form is provided at the bottom of this page.

Your bill will summarise the details of your account, i.e. the band, any discounts or council tax reduction, the total charge followed by the list of instalments and their due dates.

Billing and Debt Recovery

1. Missed instalments and reminders

If you fail to pay an instalment within time then a reminder will be issued. If the reminder amount remains unpaid after 7 days then the full balance for the year becomes payable after a further 7 days. No further reminders are sent but unless the full amount is paid, a summons will be issued incurring £70.00 costs.

If following a reminder you pay within 7 days then you can continue to pay by instalments. If you have received 2 previous reminders but you fail to pay promptly for a 3rd time in the same year, a final notice is issued for the FULL balance for the year. You lose the right to pay by the original instalments. Unless the whole amount is paid within 7 days a summons will be issued and £70.00 costs will be charged to your account.

2. Arrangements

The original instalment plan itself is an arrangement to pay the years charge by monthly instalments. We will not enter into any further arrangements prior to the issue of a summons unless future payments are to be paid by direct debit. If you wish to pay by direct debit an arrangement will be set up to clear the current year's balance by the end of the financial year. Arrangements can still be discussed after the account is summonsed but the Council will continue to obtain a liability order. (Direct Debit form)

3. Summons

The Council will make a complaint to the Magistrates court for unpaid council tax, a summons will be issued to each liable person and £70.00 costs are added to the account. Payment of the full amount including the costs, before the court date, ends the matter.

You should contact the Council in the first instance to discuss any issues regarding your council tax. The Magistrates cannot deal with council tax benefit issues, make arrangements or sort out exemptions/ discounts. You must contact us about these matters and not the court. If you contact us at this stage to make a payment arrangement we can obtain a liability order at court without your attendance and no further action will be taken if the arrangement is honoured. Make an arrangement offer.

Do not attend court unless you have a legal defence against the issue of a liability order. Whatever you are disputing please contact us first as it may be possible to resolve the matter without the need for court.

The magistrate can only listen to a valid defence against the issue of a liability order and the defences are limited:-
• The amount demanded has been paid
• Six years have passed since the debt became due
• You have been made bankrupt
• The council tax has not been properly demanded or set by resolution of the Council
• The property does not appear in the valuation list
• You are not the liable person

It is not a defence against the issue of a liability order if:-
• You cannot afford to pay or you want to make a payment arrangement
• You have applied for council tax benefit or disagree with the award
• You have appealed to the Council or the Valuation Office about the band of your property.
• You are appealing to the Valuation Tribunal
• You are a student

4. Liability order

When the court has granted a liability order to the Council for unpaid council tax further action can be taken to recover the debt:-

• Request personal financial information
• Attachment of earnings - We can ask your employer to regularly deduct a percentage of your wage, depending on the amount you earn, and pay it to your council tax account. They can charge you a £1 administration fee each time.
• Attachment of benefit - We ask the Department of Work and Pensions to deduct an amount per week from your Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance and pay it to your council tax account.
• Bailiff action – “levying distress”. Equita Bailiffs and Ross and Roberts are instructed to collect the debt on the Councils’ behalf or remove items belonging to you and sell them. This incurs further bailiff costs.
• Apply to make you bankrupt.
• Charging orders. If you owe £1000 or more the council can apply to the County Court for a charge on your property.
• Apply for your committal to prison

Unless an attachment is possible you will be sent a notification of the liability order giving you 14 days to pay or reply with an arrangement offer before the debt is passed to a bailiff to collect.
If an arrangement to clear the debt has been agreed the liability order is held and no further action is taken.

Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
PDF document Direct Debit Mandate 38 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Contact information