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How Council Tax debts are recovered


Reminder notice

Final notice

Summons and court orders

Liability Order


This page explains action we may take if you do not pay your Council Tax and gives information if you are having trouble doing so.



When you receive a demand notice (bill) at the start of the financial year you will be given 10 or 12 (upon request) monthly instalments. If your bill is issued during the year the number of instalments will be reduced.

If payment is not made within seven days of the instalment date, we can start recovery proceedings.

Can't pay your Council Tax? See problems paying.


Reminder notice

If you do not pay the instalments that are due you will be sent a reminder notice asking you to bring your payments up to date within seven days. The full year's charge will become due if the amount on the reminder notice is not paid.

A maximum of two reminder notices are issued within each financial year.


Final notice

If another instalment is missed after the issue of a second reminder notice, a final notice is issued for the full amount of Council Tax for the year and you will lose the right to pay by instalments.

It may still be possible to reinstate payment by instalments if the overdue amount is paid and you agree to pay the remaining instalments by Direct Debit.


Summons and court orders

If you do not pay the amount shown on the reminder or final notice we will apply to the magistrates court for a Liability Order .  You will be issued with a summons for the amount you owe plus £70.00 costs. 

If payment is made in full before the court date the summons will be withdrawn. If you are unable to pay in full you should contact the Debt Recovery Team on 01623 463463 Option 3 or before the court date to discuss the payment options. It may be possible to enter into a payment arrangement with you but the Council will still apply for a Liability Order.

You do not have to attend the court hearing but you do have a right to appear if you have a valid defence

 Valid defences include:

  • the amount demanded has been paid,

  • the Council has not issued recovery notices in accordance with the Regulations, or

  • insolvency proceedings have commenced.

Reasons for non-payment such as financial hardship, documents not being received and discount, exemption or Council Tax Reduction entitlement disputes, cannot be raised as a defence and do not prevent a Liability Order being granted.


Liability Order

A Liability Order enables us to enforce payment using the following methods:

  • Order your employer to make deductions from your wages.

  • Instruct an enforcement agency to seize and sell your belongings.

  • Ask the Department of Work and Pensions to make deductions from your benefit.

  • Register a charge against your property.

  • Apply to the County Court to make you bankrupt.

  • Apply to the Magistrates' Court for you to be sent to prison.

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