What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Council Tax

Late council tax payments

We realise that council tax can sometimes be a struggle to pay each month, but the longer you ignore a problem, the worse it will get.

If you are having difficulties paying your council tax, it could be you are on a low income and could be entitled to Local Council Tax Support. It might be that you are encountering temporary financial difficulties. Either way, you need to contact us immediately to discuss the various options available to you.

If you are struggling with other debts or managing your money and would like advice, there are many organisations offering free services who may be able to help. For a list of these organisations, please visit www.bournemouth.gov.uk/CTassist

Your council tax has a due date and, as our recovery process is mostly automated, if you fail to pay on time you will be sent a reminder/final notice. However, if you contact us, we can discuss more suitable payment dates or extend your payments over 12 months instead of 10.

We will not send you a reminder notice every month. However, if you want to check each month you can register to view your account online. If you are struggling to afford the repayments and have received a recovery notice, please ring 01202 451596 to discuss your options.

If you do not contact us and have received a final notice, the next stage is the issuing of a summons by the Magistrates’ Court. This will immediately add £95.00 to your bill. We will then apply to the Court for a liability order. This adds a further £22.00 to your bill. These are the costs incurred by us for taking recovery action.

We would prefer not to take recovery action against any resident, but council tax has to be paid. If you are struggling to pay and wish to try and avoid additional costs, you need to contact us immediately.

It may be possible to set up a “Special Repayment Arrangement” for you. You will be required to provide certain information. You will also need to stay up to date with any ongoing instalments. Generally, any arrears will need to be cleared within 6 months.

What is a liability order?

A liability order gives us the power to:

  • Ask your employer to deduct an amount from your earnings
  • Use external Enforcement Agents - who will charge you £75.00 immediately. Should they start recovery action against you, they will add further charges of at least £235.00. These amounts are not set by the Council but are statutory amounts and cannot be refunded once charged.
  • Ask the Department for Works and Pensions to make payments direct to the Council if you are in receipt of Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee.

In certain cases, we can register outstanding council tax as a charge on your property (like a mortgage).

If the matter still hasn’t been resolved, we can also instigate bankruptcy proceedings or make application with the Magistrates Court for your committal to prison.