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South Bucks District Council
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Council Tax - Recovery

The majority of council tax payers pay their accounts on time each month. It is therefore important to both them and the council, that anyone who does not pay is pursued for payment quickly. This ensures arrears are kept to a minimum and that council tax is kept as low as possible for everyone.

The following information briefly explains the process that we follow if you do not pay your council tax.

First Reminder

If an instalment is overdue, a reminder is issued for the amount of the arrears. If payment of this amount is made within seven days, your instalments can continue. If you don't pay the amount of the arrears within seven days, you lose the right to pay by instalments and the whole balance on your Council Tax account becomes due. Please be aware, a reminder is not sent every month. 

Second Reminder

If you paid in full the arrears on your first reminder, but you are late paying a further instalment a second reminder will be issued. If payment of your arrears is made within seven days then you can continue with your original instalment plan. If you do not pay the arrears you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the full years balance will become due.

Final Notice

If payment is not made within seven days of a reminder or any further instalment is missed the whole balance becomes due. If the Final Notice is not paid within seven days a Summons for non-payment will be issued.

Summons

If you have not paid the whole amount of the final notice within seven days then a Summons for non-payment will be issued. At this point you will incur additional charges of £60. If you pay the whole amount on the Summons including the costs then the case will not go before the Magistrates Court and no further costs will be incurred.

If payment is not made in full then whatever balance remains unpaid will go before the Magistrates Court with a request for a Liability Order to be awarded to South Bucks District Council. This order entitles us to take further steps to recover the outstanding balance.

Liability Order

If the amount shown on the summons is not paid in full by the court date the Council will apply to the Magistrates Court for a liability order. An order will be granted to the Council if the Court is satisfied that the Council has followed the correct procedures in setting and requesting payment of the Council Tax. Once granted the liability order provides the Council with the option of the following enforcement powers. Further costs of £20 will be applied for at the hearing.

Information Request

Once a liability order has been granted by the Magistrates Court, the Council are entitled to request information regarding your income.

If requested you are required by law to provide this information and failure to provide, or providing false information is a criminal offence and if found guilty carries a substantial fine and will result in a criminal record.

Once your fully completed form has been received the Council will be able to consider its options regarding enforcing payment of the debt.

Payment Arrangements

At all stages of debt recovery we encourage taxpayers to contact us to agree an arrangement for settlement.

We can be flexible in our arrangements, in that they can be paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly and we offer the same choices of payment method as are offered with your bill. As always our preferred method of payment is Direct Debit

If an arrangement is made but not maintained we will quickly, and without further warning escalate our action to recover the debt.

Attachment of Earnings Order

Once a liability order has been granted by the Magistrates Court, the Council is entitled to demand money from your wages or salary via an Attachment of Earnings Order. This will be used if acceptable arrangements to pay have not been made or if you have not paid the outstanding balance in full.

If you are employed, we can instruct your employer to take deductions from your salary or wages and pay it directly to us in settlement of your Council Tax debt. Your employer will also be able to make a small deduction from your salary for their own administration costs.

The amounts we take will depend on how much you earn based on a set percentage of your net pay every month or week.

Your employer will continue to take payments until you have paid what you owe. By law, your employer must follow the pdf icon ATTACHMENT OF EARNINGS - GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS [206kb] and regulations and can be prosecuted and fined if they do not.

Once we have issued an Attachment of Earnings Order, we will only stop proceedings once you have paid us all the Council Tax you owe.

Deductions from Benefits

The Council can also request that the Department for Work and Pensions deduct a sum from certain benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credit

Action by Enforcement Agents 

After a liability order has been granted the Council can instruct Enforcement Agents to collect the debt. Before this happens you will be sent a final warning letter advising of this.

Once an account has been passed to an Enforcement Agent fees of £75.00 will become due. If you are unable to pay in full, the Enforcement Agents will usually enter into an agreement with you. Should payments not be made however enforcement action will commence and further fees of £235 will become payable.