Urgent debt advice when you’ve missed one or more council tax repayment

Council Tax Arrears overview

Council tax is a household tax paid by every property owner or renter in the UK. The amount payable depends on the estimated value of the property, as well as how many people live within it.

You should never skip your council tax payment to pay other debts. Council tax is categorised as a so-called ‘priority debt’, which means it should be paid before debts such as credit cards and loans. Housing debts are especially important to address as early as possible, as not doing so can threaten the stability of your living situation.

If you don’t pay your council tax on the dates that are provided on your annual bill, you’ll first receive a reminder asking you to catch up. Following this you may receive a court summons that demands the full amount for the entire year. Should you miss two repayments during any one year (from April 1 to March 31) you’ll receive a notice stating that you’ll need to pay the bill in full if you miss a repayment for a third time.

Councils are notoriously strict when it comes to these demands, so it’s imperative that you speak with your local authorities’ council tax team as soon as you can if you think you’re going to have trouble paying in the future.

Debt help tips for tackling Council Tax Arrears

Worried about debts that won't go away?

  • Check to see whether you’re eligible for a Council Tax Reduction, which can help those on a low income or who are on benefits.
  • Confirm that you’re in the correct council tax bracket. An estimated 400,000 households aren’t, and each could be eligible for pay-outs into the thousands, as well as enjoying reduced council tax bills moving forward. This guide on Council Tax Bands from MoneySavingExpert.com will help walk you through the process.
  • Your council can request that a magistrate issues a ‘liability order’, which is a legal demand for a payment. The costs incurred by the council in applying for this will also be added to your bill.
  • If, after court, you still don’t pay the money you owe, the council may recoup the balance from your wages or benefits.
  • As soon as you think you’re in trouble with your council tax payments, speak first with the council and then with Citizens Advice. While they’re not obliged to accept an offer of lower payments, your council may accept it to avoid the expensive, drawn out proceedings involved in fighting a court case.

IVAs – A potential solution for Council Tax Arrears

If you owe over £5,000 to more than two companies, and need to reduce your monthly debt repayments, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement may be right for you.

While an IVA can’t include your Council Tax Arrears, it can cover all forms of mainstream credit – such as loans, credit cards and store cards, improving your financial circumstances and helping you to keep up with your Council Tax repayments.

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