What are council tax arrears?

The Council Tax, which began in 1993, is the taxation of your residential property based on the Local Government Finance Act of 1992.

The average council tax is approximately £1,146, and can represent a serious financial burden for those that already find themselves in a great deal of debt. As such, many individuals are unable to pay their council tax and are subject to legal action taken by the courts.

 

There are a number of ways to reduce your council tax. If you have any of the following, you may qualify for a reduced council tax payment:

• If you have a low income that makes the council tax represent a serious financial hardship.

• If you are single, and the only adult living in the residential property.

• If you have students living with you.

• If you are living with or taking care of the severely mentally handicapped.

Be advised that none of these reduced payments are automatic. If the government is unaware that you qualify, you will still be charged the full amount.

Also, if you do not qualify for any of these but have other reasons you cannot make the payments, it is strongly advisable to contact the courts, because they are generally understanding of personal hardship and willing to work with you to come up with a new payment plan.

What Happens If You Cannot Pay?

If you make plans to pay your council tax, but you don't, the courts are allowed to take legal action to collect on their council tax arrears. You will first be served with a Liability Order , which is a legally binding document that says you must pay back all of your debts as well as any of the fees required to collect them. You can challenge and go to court for the Liability Order, but because Liability Orders are only used when you have missed your obligated payments, it is difficult to get them removed.


What Happens If You Ignore the Liability Order?

Some people believe that they can ignore a Liability Order. But if you ignore the order, there are several actions that the county can take against you:

• The Government is allowed to force your employer to deduct the money you owe from your weekly pay check. They can do so without notifying you, and the employer is legally obligated to follow their instructions.
• Bailiffs can be sent to your home in order to seize your property. They are allowed to take whatever they want that they believe will sell at auction, and when they sell it at auction it is likely to only sell for 10-20% of its actual value, meaning they will need to take a number of your personal belongings in order to pay back even a small amount of debt.
• Your benefits may be reduced.

Council tax is one of the only debts that can earn you a prison sentence if you continue to avoid making payments. The Council is allowed to get a warrant through the Magistrates Court. Maximum prison time is 3 months, but your loans do not disappear once you leave prison. A warrant is the last resort taken by the courts and will only be used when all of the other actions have been tried and have failed.

While you should always pay off your debts to any lender, it is especially important that you pay any Council tax debts you may have. Council Tax debts are the only ones that can result in prison time, and the courts have the right to both notify your employer of your debts and force them to take the payments out of your paycheck. Overall, if you do not believe you can pay the council tax, contact the court and seek help.





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