If you are in the stage of your life where you start having problems paying your council tax due to money problem, hopefully this guide can help you with that. The moment you start having problems paying your council tax bill it is better to inform your council immediately. It is possible that your council will reduce how much you have to pay; it is possible to qualify for a discount without you even knowing about it. You can avail of a one-off discount concerning your Council Tax Bill from your council if you are experiencing extreme hardships in life like not being able to pay rent. Your council will be the one to decide if you are qualified for this discount and what grounds. It is also possible for your council to allow you to spread your payment for a longer period of time like 12 months instead of just 10 months.
Council Tax Benefits
This is a benefit for those people who have a low income to help pay council tax. The local authority will pay for your Council Tax; if you are entitled for a Council Tax Benefit your Tax will be reduced. Full Council Tax bills are based on having at least 2 adults who live together. Some groups of people do not pay Council Tax. So, if you are living with any of them, they will not be counted as adult due to Council Tax purposes.
These people include:
- children who under 18
- people in apprentice schemes
- 18 or 19 year-olds which are having a full-time education
- full-time college and also university students
- people who are under 25 who are receiving funding from Skills Funding Agency or Young Peoples Learning Agency
- student nurses
- foreign language assistants who are registered in the British Council
- people with severe mental illness
- live-in caregivers looking after a person who is not their child, spouse or partner
What happens if I miss my Council Tax Payments?
You are informed on how much you will pay for your Council Tax for a year from your Council Tax Bill, it also informs you about the payment dates which are split into ten payments monthly.
If you happen to miss paying an installment your council will notify you through the following:
This is the first step in which your council will send you a reminder notice which gives you a minimum of 7 days to pay the amount overdue.
If you fail to pay within the given seven days after receiving the reminder notice, the council will then send the final notice. You also get the final notice after once you pay your monthly Council Tax late for three times within a year.
If you still fail to pay 7 days after receiving the final notice, it is then time for the council to get you to court in order to get the Council Tax that you owe. It is also possible that the court will charge you with the councils costs, like hiring a lawyer.
If the court decides to file a Liability Order against you, your council may then take action against you to be able to recover the debt.
Consequences if you ignore a Liability Order
If you ignore the courts Liability order you will either experience wage deductions or benefit deduction, use of bailiff, and also charging orders and bankruptcy are some other options.
The council may order your employer to have a regular amount deducted from your monthly wage to cover for the unpaid Council Tax. If ever you experience financial hardship due to this you can negotiate with your council whether or not they will accept smaller amount of payments.
It is possible for your council to apply for deductions if ever you are receiving Pension Credit, Jobseekers Allowance, and Income Support.
Your council may have the option of sending bailiffs to go to your residence in order to seize some of you properties to sell. Then, the money which will be raised will go into paying the debt, plus the costs. The billing authority will send you a letter 2 weeks until the bailiff will visit first stating the amount of money that you owe the council under this Liability Order.
You may choose to offer to come to an understanding with the council and bailiff regarding your payment by getting in contact with them. It is important that you do this, because when bailiffs start making visits their costs shall be added onto your bill.
If it happens that the council tries to use bailiffs but your debt is not still fully paid, the next step for the council to do is to apply for the Magistates Court to issue a warrant for your arrest. This is the last resort of the council if ever all other efforts fail.
Before the court issues this warrant of arrest the court must first hold a means inquiry with you present in the court. The warrant will be issued only if the court has been satisfied about the failure of payment due to willful refusal or even culpable negligence. The maximum sentence for imprisonment is 3 months.
The court may choose to decide to postpone the duration of imprisonment due to some certain conditions; normally it is due to payment of debt over a time period. The court may also remit part, or even all of the debt.
Where to go for advice
A lot of organizations are independent and do not charge for guidance. You will get independent, free advice before you choose to use commercial services. The organizations are listed below.
This organization offers independent, free, and confidential advice for people dealing with debt problems in Wales, England, and Scotland.
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
The local Cab provides free advice and information on money, legal, and any other problems. If you need advice on your Council Tax problems it is good to get in contact with CAB.
Consumers Credit and Counseling Service (CCCS)
CCCS offers help lines which provide impartial, free, and independent advice for people who encounter debt problems.
If ever you see yourself having trouble with your Council Tax try reading this guide to help you out. It is not too late to seek for advice regarding your problems, Consult the above stated organizations before your Council Tax problems get the better of you.