What happens if I don't pay Council Tax?

If you don’t pay your Council Tax by the dates shown on your bill you will receive a reminder, and if you still do not pay you risk having a court summons and additional charges being added on top of the outstanding amount. Below outlines the following actions that will be taken:

Reminder notice

You will get a reminder notice if you miss an instalment, giving you seven days to pay. If you don’t pay within 7 days, you’ll lose the right to pay by instalments and so have to pay the full amount instead.

A second reminder notice will be sent to you if you miss another instalment.

Final notice

If you miss an instalment for a third time, you will get a final notice and you will have to pay the full Council Tax amount.

You will only get a maximum of two reminder notices and one final notice issued in a financial year - this runs from April 1 to March 31 of the next year.

Court summons

If you do not pay the full amount demanded, we will apply to the local Magistrates' Court for a Summons to be issued against you. The cost of this will be added to your bill.

The summons will tell you the date of the court hearing and the amount of unpaid Council Tax, plus the additional costs.

If you pay the full amount of the summons, including costs, before the hearing date, you do not have to attend court and the case against you will be withdrawn.

If you make a payment arrangement prior to the Court hearing you do not need to attend Court, however the Magistrates' Court will be asked to grant a Liability Order to secure the debt.

Provided you keep to the payment arrangement no further recovery action is taken.

Liability order

If you do not pay the full amount due on your summons, we will request a Liability Order at the Court hearing.

The liability order gives the Council powers to recover the outstanding debt using the methods listed below:

  • Attachment of Earnings Order
  • Attachment of Benefit
  • The use of an Enforcement Agent
  • Bankruptcy proceedings
  • Place a charging order on your property

After the court hearing, you will get a Notice of Liability Order advising that if you do not make an arrangement with the Council within 14 days, the debt will be passed to an Enforcement Agency for collection. The notice will also advise you of the additional costs that will be incurred if this happens.

The notice also includes a questionnaire for you to complete to enable the Council to take a deduction from your wages or your Income Support/Job Seeker’s Allowance/Employment Support Allowance if applicable.

Please do not delay in making a payment arrangement or returning the form with your employment or benefit details.

Contact us

To prevent any of the above actions being taken, please ensure that your Council Tax is paid on time. If you begin to struggle with the payments, please contact us immediately. We can offer options that could help your circumstances, such as:

There is also useful advice on dealing with Council Tax arrears on the Citizens Advice Bureau website, or you can use their drop-in service at our Central Library.