Website URL : http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=10124

Council tax recovery process

If payment is not made on the due due we can start recovery proceedings.

First Reminder

Payment is due on the 1st of the month unless you pay by Direct Debit.

If a payment is overdue, a reminder is issued for the arrears amount. If payment is made within seven days, the instalments continue. If payments are not brought up-to-date within seven days and no contact has been made with us after a further seven days; a Summons is issued for the FULL amount of Council Tax due for the year plus costs.

Second Reminder

If payment is made after a first reminder has been issued but then a further instalment is missed, a second reminder is issued for the unpaid amount. If payment is made within seven days, the instalments continue. If payments are not brought up-to-date within seven days and no contact has been made with us after a further seven days; a Summons is issued for the FULL amount of Council Tax due for the year plus costs.

Final Notice

If another instalment is missed after a second reminder has been sent, a Final Notice is issued for the FULL amount of Council Tax due for the year. The right to pay by monthly instalments is LOST. Unless the whole amount due is paid within seven days a summons will be issued and extra costs charged.

Council Tax Summons

If a Reminder or Final Notice is not paid as explained above, a summons will be sent for the FULL amount of Council Tax outstanding for the year and extra costs.

If payment is made to the Council in full before the Court date, including the extra costs, that is the end of the matter. If full payment is not made, the case is presented to the Magistrates Court and extra costs added. An arrangement may still be accepted at this stage but Court action will continue to liability order stage. It is important to contact the Customer Services to talk through the details.

Council Tax Liability Order

If the Summons and costs is not paid in full by the court date, the Court grants the Council a document called a Liability Order. A Liability Order gives the Council the power to instruct Enforcement Agents, deduct money from your benefits or earnings, commence insolvency proceedings, obtain a charging order against your property or seek your commitment to prison.

If a method of paying the arrears has not been agreed, a Liability Order Notification & Request for Information form will be sent to you with a questionnaire, which must be completed and returned by law to the council within 14 days.

There are a number of methods we can use to recover unpaid council tax.

Once a liability order is obtained, if you fail to pay the debt in full or make payments under the terms of an arrangement then further action will be taken to recover the balance.

This can include;

Attachment of earnings

An order is made to deduct regular payments from your salary or wages. This is calculated on a percentage deduction depending on what you earn. Employers can charge you £1.00 per deduction to cover administration costs.

Deductions from Income Support, Jobseekers' allowance, Employment Support Assistance (ESA) or Pension Credits.

An order is made to the Department for Work and Pensions for deductions of £3.70per week from your benefit and paid directly to us.

Enforcement Agents

If you fail to contact us within 14 days of the court hearing date your account could be passed to Enforcement Agents for collection. Taking control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 allows for the following fees to be charged:

  • Compliance stage - £75.00
  • Enforcement stage - £235.00 (Plus 7.5% of sum to be recovered exceeding £1500.00)
  • Sale or disposal stage - £110.00 (Plus 7.5% of sum to be recovered exceeding £1500.00)

Enforcement Agents may charge other reasonable fees in connection with the sale or disposal stage.

If you have still not paid the debt after this action we will make an application to recover the balance by one of the following methods;

Bankruptcy

If you owe more than £5000.00 in council tax, we may start bankruptcy proceedings against you.

First, we will send you a statutory demand which will give you 21 days to pay the full amount.

If you receive a statutory demand you should contact us immediately.

If you do not settle the statutory demand we will present a petition for bankruptcy in the high court.

If the court issues a bankruptcy order against you, this will mean;

  • the official receiver will investigate your affairs
  • your bank accounts will be frozen
  • your credit rating will be effected and make it more difficult to obtain credit
  • you could be forced to sell your home to pay your debts

Charging order

If you owe over £1,000.00 in unpaid council tax we can choose to apply for a charging order.

A charging order can only be applied for where the liable party has a beneficial interest in the property, i.e. is the owner or part-owner.

If a charging order is applied for it will incur you additional costs and court fees.

When a charging order is granted it gives the council a charge on the property which means once the property is sold and any mortgage paid off, the council tax debt can be claimed from any remaining equity. It may be possible for us to enforce the sale of the property.

Committal to prison

We can apply to the magistrates' court for a committal summons. This is the first stage towards you possibly going to prison.

If you receive a committal summons, you should immediately;

If you pay in full, you do not need to go to court. If you do not pay in full, you must go to the court shown on the summons.

At court your income and spending will be assessed to decide whether you should go to prison. You must bring evidence of your income and spending to court if possible.

If you do not go to the hearing, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. If you are arrested, you will be taken into custody where you will have to wait for your hearing.

Do not ignore a committal summons, please contact us immediately, you may go to prison for up to 90 days.

Please do not ignore any notice that is sent to you. For help and advice please contact our customer service team on 01295 227000. Lines are open Mon - Fri 08:45 - 17:15.

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