If you have received a Council Tax summons
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If you have received a Council Tax summons

Why you have received a court summons

Court summons are sent when Council Tax has not been paid exactly in line with an instalment plan. Reminders and/or final notices are sent before a summons and will advise you to contact us and make a payment. When no payments have been received and/or we have not been contacted to set up a payment arrangement, the next legal step is to request a summons for the whole balance on a Council Tax account.

How to avoid going to court

To stop the case going before the Magistrates' Court, the full amount shown on the front of the summons, including the summons costs, needs to be paid before the hearing date.

How to Pay

If you have received a summons, the best ways to pay are as follows:

  • Online – see “Top Tasks” to make a debit card payment

  • By debit card over the telephone - if you have a touch-tone phone, just ring 0113 395 7100 and follow the easy, step-by-step instructions. You can ring any time - this service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Or call 0113 376 0362 Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4:30pm to speak to council staff to pay by card.

  • In person - you can pay at any Post Office or Paypoint outlet for free. Please take your summons or bill with you when you go to pay and make sure you have not torn or written over the barcode on the front. At the Post Office you can pay by cash or cheque (made payable to Post Office Ltd) but Paypoint outlets are cash-only.

Click to expandWhat if I can't pay in full before the hearing?

If you have not paid the full amount on the summons, including the summons costs, by the hearing date, we will ask the Magistrates for a Liability Order. This will add extra costs to your bill. The Liability Order gives the Council certain powers, such as arranging to take money out of your wage or benefit or arranging for bailiffs to take away some of your belongings and sell them. More information on this is available on the related page “Baliffs” and you can find out what will happen after court on the related page “Council Tax – what happens after court”.

We will consider making a payment arrangement with you and if you keep it exactly up to date, we will not use the full powers which the Liability Order gives us. If you cannot pay in full, please call the Council Tax office on 0113 3760362 straight away. You will need to give details of your income and outgoings. If you want to make an arrangement there is no need to attend court.

Click to expandWhat if I want to make an arrangement but I cannot call you to do this?

If you cannot call, you can speak to council staff face-to-face at 2 Great George Street, Leeds LS2 8JR (entrance opposite the Merrion Centre on Woodhouse Lane) or at any One Stop Centre, or you can email us at ctax.recovery@leeds.gov.uk

Click to expandDo I have to go to the Magistrates' Court for the hearing?

You do not need to go to court if you just want to discuss a payment arrangement - you can do that by ringing us on 0113 3760362, sending an email to ctax.recovery@leeds.gov.uk or going into one of the council's One Stop Centres.

The Magistrates cannot make a payment arrangement with you. However, staff from the council tax office will be at court 30 minutes before the hearing, so you can speak to them then. Please make every effort to contact us before the date of the hearing as it can be very busy at court on the hearing date.​​

Click to expandWhat if I think I have a valid defence against the council asking for a Liability Order?

You may decide to attend court if you have a 'Valid Defence' to stop the Council asking for a Liability Order.

There are two main defences which can do this:

  • the Council has not followed the procedures set down in law when trying to collect your Council Tax, or
  • you have paid all the overdue Council Tax within the time limit given on the last reminder or final notice sent to you.

If you think you have one of these defences, please ring us straight away on 0113 376 0362 so that we can look into it for you. We may tell you that you do not need to go to court. You can speak to the court about these valid defences, or you can get a solicitor to speak for you. You will need to provide evidence to back up what you say. The court cannot take into account any other reasons why you have not paid, even if you have been unable to pay. They cannot change the law and they must apply it as it stands.​​​​​

Click to expandWhat if I was on benefit during the period I’ve been sent a summons for?

You cannot talk to the court about the fact that you believe you should have had Housing or Council Tax Benefit, or Local Council Tax Support, for the period concerned or part of it. Instead, you should ring 0113 222 4404 straight away and select option 1, or see the related page “Benefits”.​

Click to expandWhat if I think I should not have been charged for Council Tax or I think that I should have had a discount or exemption?

You cannot talk to the court about these things, because they are things which have to be put forward to a Valuation Tribunal (the Tribunal is not part of the Council). If you think your charge is wrong, contact us on 0113 376 0362, e-mail ctax.recovery@leeds.gov.uk or visit one of our One Stop Centres and we will look into it for you. If we do not agree with you, we will tell you how to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

If you have already written to the Valuation Tribunal and are waiting to hear about it, you still have to pay your Council Tax in full. If your appeal is successful, we will send you a refund if you have overpaid and do not owe any other Council Tax.​​

Click to expandCan you give me advice or help with other serious debts?

If you're having problems paying more than one type of Council debt such as Council Tax, Housing Benefits Overpayments and rent, then call 0113 376 0364 and we may be able to help you. More information is on the related page “Serious debt problems & debt advice” and in the 'Who else can help me?' dropdown section of this page.

Click to expandWho else can help me?

Citizens Advice provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities - including debt and money problems.

Debt Support Trust help people in debt across the UK with confidential and tailored debt advice so you can once again be debt free.

Debt Advice Foundation is a registered national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about loans, credit and debt.

Leeds City Credit Union is a financial cooperative that provides straightforward, affordable financial services to anyone who lives or works in Leeds and Wakefield or who is a resident of certain housing associations or who works for one of their 'Select' employers (see their site for more information).

The Money Advice Service is a free and impartial money advice service, set up by government. They offer advice and guides to help improve your finances, tools and calculators to help you keep track and plan ahead and support in person, over the phone and online.

The Money Information Centre (MIC) helps people in Leeds with money problems. Their site has details of all the organisations and charities across Leeds providing free and independent debt advice.

National Debtline are an independent charity who provide free, impartial and confidential debt advice by phone and online to people across the UK.

StepChange are experts in helping people to manage and repay their debts. They offer tailored advice and practical solutions to help people with debt and money problems manage their debt and make a fresh start.

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