If you owe council tax, you will need to know the steps you need to take to resolve the issue. The first step you should take is to get an independent financial adviser to help you. Once you have a better understanding of what you owe, you can then apply for a county court judgment. This will allow you to stop paying the debt, and will also prevent you from being sent to prison.
Write off your debt
If you’re behind on your council tax payments, it’s important to contact the council as soon as possible. You may be able to apply for debt relief. There are a few different options.
It is a legal offence to fail to pay your Council Tax regularly. If you don’t pay, your home could be taken or you might receive a prison sentence. To protect yourself, you need to make a budget.
You must include the reference number of your council tax account when you make payment. The council should send you a reminder letter 14 days after you miss a payment.
Once you miss a payment, the council might use the powers under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to take you to court. A judge can issue a court order for you to pay your debt, or even for the council to take the money out of your wages.
The council will also send an enforcement agent to your house. This can be a difficult time, especially if you’re unemployed. So it’s important to seek independent financial advice.
It’s also essential to explain to the council why you’re in debt. They will ask for proof that you’re suffering a serious hardship. Some people don’t know that the Local Government Finance Act 1992 allows the council to write off your council tax arrears.
Council tax is one of the priority bills, so if you don’t pay, it can result in a prison sentence or seizure of your property. However, the amount you owe depends on your income.
If you can’t afford to make a monthly repayment, you can apply to the court to reduce the amount you owe. Alternatively, you can apply for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) with the council. An IVA will give you a low monthly repayment over a five year period.
The council will also be able to reduce the balance of your council tax arrears. This can be achieved by applying to the courts or through a means enquiry hearing at a Magistrates’ Court.
Apply for a county court judgment
If you are in arrears with council tax, you may have to go to court. This is a scary thing. You could end up in prison. But you can avoid going to jail if you make regular payments. The good news is that there are ways to get a judgment for council tax arrears cancelled.
First, the council might ask you to pay the full balance of the debt before they take further action. They can do this by issuing a court summons, which will add costs to the amount you owe. However, you can avoid this by arranging to make the payment in installments.
If you don’t make a payment within a certain amount of time, you will receive a committal summons. A committal summons means that the council has decided to take legal action. It will also mean that you lose your right to pay by instalments.
If you have received a committal summons, you should contact your local council. They will send a recovery officer to the address. This person will tell you who you should contact and what to do next.
If you don’t respond to the summons, you could get a warrant for arrest. This will increase your debt and you may have to pay bailiff fees.
If you are unsure of how to go about getting a judgment for council tax arrears, you can call the Citizens Advice Bureau. They have money advisers to help you. Or you can try the National Debt Line. There is free advice available.
The court process varies between regions. It might take you seven days before you are issued with a summons. If you don’t pay in full by the due date, the council will issue a CCJ. Some courts will allow you to pay by county court judgment.
In addition, you may be able to claim Council Tax Support. This is easier to do if you claim now. Even if you do not qualify for support, you can present your case at the hearing.
Get independent financial advice
If you are in arrears with your council tax payments, get independent financial advice. This is important for several reasons. First, it can help you avoid taking action against the council. Secondly, you might be able to negotiate a better deal. You can even request to have your debt written off if the circumstances are unusual.
Council tax is an annual fee that you pay to your local authority. It helps pay for services in your community. The amount you pay depends on the value of your house. For example, a more expensive property may have a higher tax band.
When you fall behind with your council tax, you could face serious consequences. In some cases, you could have your home repossessed. Depending on your situation, you may also have to pay court costs.
If you are facing court action, you must make sure you are able to pay the full amount before the date set by the court. Otherwise, you may end up in prison.
In some cases, a council may send a bailiff to your house to collect your unpaid bill. However, you can ask for a special arrangement to pay the balance in full before the bailiff arrives.
If you receive a sheriff officer letter, you should immediately seek debt advice. You can find free debt and housing advice at Citizens Advice County Durham and your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Council tax is a priority debt, so you should always try to get this paid off before other debts. Getting independent financial advice can help you manage your money more effectively.
The best way to get the right council tax advice is to contact a debt advice service. Your local councillor is also a good place to start. Alternatively, you can get the information you need from the Local Government Ombudsman.
Before you decide to make a payment, it is a good idea to make a budget. This will help you plan your future bills and keep track of what you have to spend.
Avoid being sent to prison
If you do not pay your council tax on time, you may be sent to prison. The law allows magistrates to send someone to jail if they believe that they have wilfully refused to pay the debt.
This is an unfair process for the poorest people, says an advocate at the Centre for Criminal Appeals. But there are ways to get relief from your council tax arrears.
The first step is to make a complaint to the local council. They will usually give you some sort of payment arrangement. However, if they do not, you can attend court and ask for a liability order.
When making a payment, include your liability order number. It’s also important to specify which year you’re owing. You can then ask the council to make a reconsideration offer.
You may need to pay some extra costs as well. For instance, your bailiff fees can be added to the total amount you owe.
Your council can also apply for a Liability Order. These are issued throughout the UK and give court-appointed debt collectors the power to take legal action to recover your debt.
A Liability Order will not be granted if you have already paid a part of your debt or if you have requested a repayment plan from the council. Alternatively, a council might apply for bankruptcy.
If you can’t pay the full amount, you can ask the magistrates to write off some of your council tax debt. Before going to the court, you need to be sure that you can afford to make the monthly payments.
A court will also examine your financial situation. There may be deductions from your wages, benefits or other assets. Once the court has made its decision, you will be given a summons to appear in court.
Magistrates will ask you questions about your finances and how you have spent your money. As part of the means enquiry, they will examine why you have not been able to pay your council tax.
The court will decide whether your non-payment of council tax is a willful refusal or a culpable neglect. The court might then ask you to pay the remainder of the debt.