What happens if you don’t pay your Council Tax?

If you haven’t spoken to us about a problem paying your bill, and you miss a payment, we will ask you for payment:

  1. we will send you a reminder notice giving you 7 days to pay
  2. if you don’t pay within 7 days, we will send you a final notice
  3. once you receive a final notice you will lose the right to pay by instalments, so the full bill for the whole year immediately becomes payable
  4. If you don’t pay the final notice within 7 days, we will take legal action to get the Council Tax you owe. The cost of the court summons will be added to your bill.

See if you can get help paying your Council Tax.

Summons and Liability Orders

If you receive a summons, you will be advised of your debt and of a court hearing date. At the summons hearing, the council will seek to obtain a liability order, which gives us extra powers to recover the money owed from you.

If a liability order is obtained, this will be charged to you. You will be sent a letter advising that you have 14 days to pay this debt including costs.

If you do not pay it will be passed to the council’s enforcement agents. Alternatively, deductions may be taken direct from your earnings or benefits.

Deductions from wages

If you are working, your employer will be sent an Attachment of Earnings Order asking them to make regular deductions from your wages towards your unpaid Council Tax.

Deductions from benefits

We may be able to apply for deductions from your benefits to pay your Council Tax if you are receiving Jobseekers' Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit.

Enforcement agents

If your debt is passed to enforcement agents, you will need to contact them directly to discuss payment of this debt.

They may take some of your belongings and sell them at a public auction to pay off the debt. You will be charged further costs if your debt is passed to the enforcement agents.

Charging orders

If you own your home a charge may be placed on your property so that, when the property is sold, the Council Tax debt, including costs will be paid from the proceeds of the sale. If you have a mortgage, this will be paid first.

Committal to prison

If enforcement agents do not manage to get back all the money you owe us, you will have to go to court.

The court will hold a ‘means enquiry’ which looks into your debt and your means, income and expenditure. If the court is satisfied you have deliberately refused to pay, or you have not told us about a change in your circumstances they will issue a warrant.

The court may decide to send you to prison for up to three months. Imprisonment may be postponed on conditions such as arranging to pay off the debt over a period of time.

The court also has the power to remit all or part of the debt. This means you will no longer have to pay the part of the debt that has been remitted.

Council tax and bankruptcy

We can apply to the courts for you to be made bankrupt if your debt exceeds £750.

Find out more about bankruptcy on the Gov.uk website.