Council Tax Enforcement
We can take action if you do not and will not pay your local taxes. Here’s a guide to our enforcement procedures if you do not or will not pay your taxes.
Contact our Revenues Services if you have any questions if you owe us money and need help in paying. We will do all we can to help if you have money problems.
Alternatively, you can contact the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau Debt Advice Service on 0344 411 1444.
We can enforce collection once the Magistrates have granted a Liability Order. This currently costs £55 on the issue of the Summons plus a further £30 once a liability order is granted.
Further costs could be added if you do not pay straight away and we have to use additional collection methods.
Under the powers granted by the Magistrates we can without giving you further notice take action.
Taking Money from Your Wages
If you are working, we can order your employer to take an amount, set by law, from your wage or salary before you are paid. Your employer can also charge you a small fee for doing this.
Taking Money from Your Benefits
If you are in receipt of Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, we can ask the Benefit's Agency to take money from your benefit. Generally they will only be able to do this if other money is not already being taken.
We may instruct Enforcement Agents to collect the debt on our behalf, and if left unpaid, they may take your belongings to sell at public auction. This will help raise the money to pay your debt.
You will be given 14 days notice before your belongings are taken. You can prevent this by paying the debt together with any charges or costs that may have arisen.
You can sign an agreement with the Enforcement Agent to prevent your goods being taken. This is called a “Controlled Goods” agreement. This confirms you will pay the debt over a period of time.
If you keep the agreement the debt will eventually clear and this will be the end of the matter. If you fail to keep the agreement you will incur further costs and risk having your goods removed for sale.
The Enforcement Agent carries the written authorisation of the Council. You can ask to see this.
The Enforcement Agent is entitled to make charges. You will have to pay these as well as the unpaid Council Tax. The amount of the charges will depend on how long you wait before paying or making an arrangement with the Enforcement Agent.
New rules and fees came into effect from 6th April 2014
There may be 2 fees payable
- Compliance fee £75.00 This will be charged by the Enforcement Agents on receipt of a Liability Order from the Council
- Enforcement fee £235.00. This will be applied when the Enforcement Agent has attended the property for the first time
Total fees that may be applied are £310.00, however If goods are removed to be sold, further fees will become payable
If an arrangement is made, the Enforcement Agent will take the Compliance Fee of £75.00 with the first payment.
If the debtor does not respond to the first letter an Enforcement Agency sends, the Enforcement Agent will attend the debtors address to take control of the goods. This is when an additional £235 will be payable.
The Enforcement Agent can take control of debtor’s goods if they are located on a highway, or on premises that he has a power to enter. The Enforcement Agent may enter premises without a warrant in order to search for and take control of goods where he believes it is the place where the debtor usually lives or carries on a trade or business.
To avoid having to pay additional costs, please contact the Council before your account gets to this stage.
Sale of Goods
Goods taken will be sold at public auction. The value realised may be considerably less than their replacement value. The sale would not normally take place until at least five days after the removal of goods.
If before sale is preceded with the outstanding sum, plus charges arising up to that point, paid in full the amount will be accepted, the sale will not proceed and the goods will be made available for collection.
Some goods that you need to live or work cannot be taken. The law has set these out as 'such clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment and provisions as are necessary for satisfying the basic domestic needs of the debtor and his family.
'Such tools, books, vehicles, and other items of equipment as are necessary to the debtor for use personally by him in his employment, business or vocation'.
If items are taken, you must be handed or a copy left at the premises a note of the amount ceased.
- A copy of regulation 45 and Schedule 5 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 – the legislative provisions which lay down the power to levy distress and set out charges which can be raised
- A copy of any Controlled Goods agreement entered into
- A notice of seizure listing the goods which are the subject of a Controlled Goods agreement
Close possession is where the Enforcement Agent stays on the premises with the goods until payment is made or the goods removed for sale. This method is rarely used.
If you are elderly and have difficulty in coping, are disabled, suffer from long-term sickness or serious illness, have recently been bereaved, are a single parent family, have difficulty understanding English, or are on Income Support, you, or someone acting on your behalf should make the Enforcement Agent aware of your position.
The Enforcement Agent will be able to take account of your individual circumstances before deciding what further action is appropriate.
If you think the Enforcement Agent's action has been irregular you can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a summons against the Council.
If the Court is satisfied that a levy was irregular, and not in accordance with the Council Tax regulations, it can order the return of the goods, award compensation and order us not to act in the same manner in the future.
The Court could of course award costs against you for a frivolous application.
Acting Enforcement Agents
We currently employ four Enforcement Agent companies to act on our behalf.
2 Southlands Road
Bromley, Kent BR2 9QP
Tel: 0181 290 0866
Stanford & Green
43-51 Lower Stone Street
Kent ME15 6GB
Tel: 01622 683308
Ross & Roberts
Unit 8 Wessex Park
Bancombe Road Trading Estate
Somerset TA11 6SB
Tel: 01458 271888
Whyte & Co
7 White Oak Square
Kent BR8 7AG
Tel: 0845 458 9429
This is provided for guidance only and not intended to be comprehensive or relied upon in the place of independent legal advice.
If you owe at least £1,000 we can apply to the County Court to place a “Charge” on your property. When the property is sold we get the money we are owed before you get any money from the sale.
In certain cases we may be able to force your property to be sold.
Being Made Bankrupt
If you owe more than £750 we can ask the County Court to start bankruptcy action. If you are made bankrupt all your belongs and assets will become the property of the Receiver. You will be unable to get credit and your bankruptcy will be widely known.
Going to Prison
If the Enforcement Agents are unable to seize belongings to the value of the debt, we may apply to the Court for you to go to prison. You will have to explain to the Magistrates why you have not paid.
If they decide your failure to pay has been due to refusal or neglect, they can send you to prison for up to 3 months.
In some cases, this can be suspended if payment is made to the Magistrates’ Order. You will get extra costs on your account for this action.