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What happens if you don't pay?

​This page will tell you what could happen if you don't pay your Council Tax and how we can help you if you can't pay.

If you are behind with your Council Tax instalments

If you are behind with your Council Tax instalments, we will send a reminder. If you pay as shown on the reminder and then keep your instalments up to date, we won’t have to take any further action. However, if you don’t pay the amount shown by the date given, Council Tax law says we must send a summons. This adds extra costs to your bill.

If you are having difficulty paying your Council Tax bill please see the related page What if you can't pay your Council Tax.

If you have received a Court Summons 

If you receive a summons, please call us to discuss this on 0113 398 4732.

If you have received a Court Summons and we are granted a Liability Order against you by the Magistrates', the Order will give us certain powers that we can use to obtain payment. However, we would rather make a suitable payment arrangement with you than use those powers. 

Please see the related page If you have received a Council Tax summons which tells you the important things you need to know.

Liability Order - resulting actions we can take

The powers we can use once a Liability Order has been granted include:

  • Financial Information Form - We may send you this form for you to tell us about your finances; 
  • Attachment Order - We can arrange for money to be taken from your pay or benefit, this is called making an Attachment Order;
  • Bailiffs - we can send bailiffs to your property to take away some of your possessions;
  • Bankruptcy - We can apply to make you bankrupt;
  • Charging Order - We can apply for a Charging Order, if you own your own home;
  • Prison -  we can ask the court to send you to prison.

Liability Order - Further Information

For more information about Attachments, Bailiffs and other recovery actions we can take after a Liability Order is granted, see the related page Council Tax - what happens after court.

How to contact us
Please see Contacting the Council Tax office in the Documents section.

Debt Problems - where to get advice
If you are having serious debt problems, please see the related page Serious debt problems and debt advice. Please also see the external links section for links to other money and debt advice websites which give help and advice to people in debt. 

Why have you sent me a reminder/final notice/summons?

​By law, we must send a reminder if your instalments are not up-to-date. If you don't bring them up to date within 7 days or contact us to make an arrangement, you lose the right to pay by instalments. You will then be sent a summons and will have to pay court costs.
We don't have to send a reminder each time you miss an instalment - the law only requires us to send you a maximum of two in any financial year. If you receive two reminders in the year and after each one you bring your instalments up-to-date, but then fall behind again, we will send a final notice. This removes your right to pay by instalments and the full balance becomes due.

If you don't pay the full amount or make an arrangement within 7 days, you will be sent a summons and will have to pay court costs too.

If you do not pay in full before the hearing, the council will apply for a 'liability order.' Once granted, a liability order gives us the certain powers - see 'After court action' in 'Downloads' for more information.

What if I can’t pay the amount on the Reminder/Final Notice/Summons?

If you are having difficulty paying, please contact us at the Council Tax office and we will try to come to an arrangement for payment with you. We can also advise you of ways in which your Council Tax can be reduced.

You have sent me a Summons and I want to make an arrangement to pay. Why must I still pay the costs?

​By law, costs are payable when a liability order is obtained. Once a Summons has been issued, the only way to stop the council from asking for a liability order is to pay the full amount before the hearing. Even when an arrangement is made, the council still has to obtain a liability order, but we will not take any of the actions which it allows us to take as long as you keep to the arrangement we have made with you.

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