What should I do about my council tax arrears?
In recent years at Payplan we have seen a rise in the number of clients coming to us owing council tax arrears. This is often due to a number of factors, including a drop in income or an unforeseen increase elsewhere in their expenditure. If you are in this position, for whatever reason, it is extremely important that you address it as soon as possible.
You may think it is ok to fall behind with council tax payments or other priority payments compared to credit card or, loans. This is because the latter generally use a more aggressive approach to chasing debt.
However, once you are in arrears with council tax your local authority can apply to the magistrates’ court for a Liability Order. The magistrates will issue a summons for you to appear before them, but you do not need to attend. However, if the arrears are due to an ability to pay then it will be in your best interest to attend the hearing and explain your circumstances. Once your local authority is granted the Liability Order, they can use a wide range of enforcement methods to recover the arrears such as:
- Termination of your tenancy agreement if you are living in a council property.
- Being issued with a Charging Order.
- Having the arrears taken directly from your salary with an Attachment of Earnings.
- Having the arrears taken directly from any benefits that you receive with an Attachment of Benefits.
- Being made bankruptcy.
- Facing a prison sentence.
If you are struggling to maintain your council tax payments you should check if you are entitled to receive any benefits:
- If you live on your own, or with children under the age of 18, you are entitled to receive a single occupancy discount of 25% off your council tax.
- If you are a low income household then you may be entitled to receive council tax benefit that cover all or part of your council tax. Check with your local authority to see if you are entitled to claim.
- If your home has been adapted for use by a physically or mentally disabled person of any age then you may also be able to qualify for help.
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