Council Tax Debt Help & Advice
Debt is often described in negative terms. But borrowing money, or ‘taking on debt’, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Manageable debts, that you can comfortably pay back over an agreed period, are often necessary in order to take that next step in life.
It’s only when debt repayments become unmanageable or unaffordable that debt becomes a problem.
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Your council tax debt should be one of your main priorities. Local authorities have rights that private companies don’t when it comes to debt recovery. Councils can apply to collect unpaid council tax from your wages or salary – and in some cases, you can go to jail for non-payment.
How to pay your council tax
You can either pay your council tax debt in a lump sum, or spread it across the year in smaller payments. Some councils take 12 monthly payments, while others take payments for ten months, with a two-month break.
You can pay by phone, bank transfer, by cheque or by setting up a Direct Debit or standing order.
Keeping on top of council tax payments
It’s easier than you think to fall into council tax debt. For example, if you move house and forget to forward your post, you may not receive your final bill.
The key to keeping on top of your council tax is to make sure you budget for it each month. Council tax debt is normally a fixed amount, so set it aside. If you share the bill with other people, make sure they pay their share before it’s due to leave your bank account.
If you are disabled, live alone or have a low income, it is worth checking if you qualify to pay less council tax. For more information on council tax reduced payments please visit www.gov.uk/council-tax-reduction If you think you may be paying too much, check with the council that you’re in the correct tax band or use one of the online council tax band checkers.
What happens if I go into council tax debt
If you choose to pay monthly and miss a council tax debt payment, you will receive a reminder from your local authority. This will give you seven days to pay the missing installment.
If you don’t pay within this time, you will be asked to pay all outstanding council tax debt within a further seven days. If you miss this payment, your council may take legal action.
At this stage they have the power to collect unpaid tax from your wages. If you’re receiving benefits, the council may also deduct unpaid council tax from these.
Councils may also instruct bailiffs to seize your possessions to recover unpaid tax. (But remember, if they are visiting for the first time, you don’t have to let them in.)
In the worst cases, non-payment of council tax debts can lead to a prison sentence. You could be sent to jail for up to three months if the court decides you don’t have a good reason not to pay your Council Tax and you refuse to pay it.
If you’re struggling with council tax debt call us now for immediate and confidential free debt help & advice or complete this form.
We can start to work through your debt problems as soon as you contact us. Our advisors are trained to give you the best advice for your situation.
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