Getting worried about your council tax debts is quite normal. If you are looking out for help with council tax debt, then there are places where you can find it. Being a priority debt, there can be consequences that you may face if you do not pay them on time.
Council Tax Debt or Council Tax Arrear- Meaning
Council Tax Debts are often referred to as Council Tax Arrears. It is a priority debt. This means you must pay off your due council tax before you pay off the other not so important debts (credit card or some other unsecured loans). This is the reason they are called priority debts.
How does it become arrears? You must have missed paying off the taxable amount to the government. That means that you need to pay the outstanding amount to your council.
There are choices for you to pay the council tax arrear. You can pay off the arrear amount over a period of 12 months or 10 months. You can take suggestions from your council for tax debt help. They will give suggestions regarding which one would be the best for you.
Factors that Influence Council Tax
Not everyone pays the council tax. Most of the households are liable to pay council tax. But the amount will depend on some factors. Those are as follows-
1: The current value of your house property
2: Your age
3: Your monthly or annual income
4: The people who reside in your house
These factors will make an impact on how much your council tax arrear will be.
What Happens When You Miss Paying Your Council Tax?
Various reasons can be behind your non-payment of council tax debts. When you miss out paying your council tax instalment, you get a notice from the council stating that you need to pay off the due amount on a particular date. This is basically a reminder that the council gives you two weeks after your payment date.
The council will extend the time up to 7 days more for you to repay the due amount. If you arrange money and pay the council within 7 days, you don’t have to do anything more. Council will write off your debt and you will be able to continue paying your council tax in instalments.
Note: You will only get two reminders in a particular financial year, in case you miss paying off your council tax debts.
What Are The Consequences that You Have to Face If You Don’t Pay the Council Tax
When you miss paying a council tax, you are in arrears. If the reason for non-payment is a shortage of money, then you should not wait for the council to contact you, Go and have a clear cut conversation with your council stating your current financial position. Also the reasons that you will provide them have to be strong enough to accept. You never know, they can lower the amount or give you the facility to pay of the due amount in smaller instalments.
In case you don’t make a payment and also don’t contact them even after getting reminders twice, you may have to face serious consequences. They are as follows-
- After you fail to pay the amount on due time, the council will send you another notice within 7 days. This is the final notice from the council. After this, you will not receive any other reminders. They will directly take serious steps to recover their money.
- After the final notice, the council is going to wait for your response. If your response does not turn out to be positive they will get into the legal procedure.
- Usually, the council will appeal to the court and the court will order you to pay the due amount. From then onwards, the court will be liable to recover the arrear amount from you. This order is known as the Liability Order.
- The court can now send a bailiff to your house in order to recover the money.
- Besides that, the court can recover the money by taking benefits payments like – Income support, Job seekers allowance, pension credit, universal credit, employment and support allowance, etc.
The court can also hand over the liability order to the council. In this case, you may have to pay the whole cost of the court fees and also the fee for sending bailiffs to your home.
Note: In case you are wondering what bailiff is, Bailiff is a legal observer or officer that is sent to your house when you fail to repay your creditors. Your creditors can apply for bailiffs and the legal officer will visit your home and try to recover the arrear amount of money by taking out stuff from your home.
Know About Council Tax Reductions
There are some ways, which when applied, can actually lower down the cost of your Council Tax. If you want council tax debt help, you must know them –
- If you live on your own, you will be entitled to receive a 25% discount on your Council Tax Debts. In case you are living with people like a full-time student or with someone who is severely mentally ill, then only you are eligible for the discount.
- The other way you can reduce the amount and get an extra council tax reduction if you are above the pension age.
- If someone in your house is handicapped or disabled and the house you guys are living in is adapted, the council will reduce the tax amount.
Note: If your financial condition solves or if you notice any changes in your income in a positive way, make sure you tell the council about it. So that the council can send you the updated bill.
Can You Go To Jail For Non Payment of Council Tax Arrears?
The question often arises if non-payment of council tax can lead you to jail or not. The answer is yes. After all the steps taken by the council and the court, if you are still stubborn and don’t take any initiative to pay the due money, the court can send you behind bars.
Know About Council Tax Bands
You must have heard about Council Tax Bands. So what are council tax bands and how do they help you?
Council will charge the tax depending on the value of your house in 1991. More expensive houses pay a higher amount of council tax. So, if your house is not so expensive, you may pay a lesser amount of council tax. In short, these bands help to determine the value of your house.
There are mainly three types of bands. Band A, I and H. Band A represent the cheapest band and band I and H represent the most expensive bands. You can see the band value of your house in your council tax bill.
If you feel like your house is under a wrong band, you may contact the council to resolve this issue. And if you are lucky enough, you can save money by paying less amount of council tax.