If you do not pay the full amount of your Council Tax or Business Rates, the Council will apply to the Magistrates Court for the issue of a Liability Order against you. This covers the full remaining balance with an extra charge of £74.00 summons costs awarded by the Court.
A Liability Order is a multi purpose legal document that gives the Council the power to enforce, through the various methods below, payment of Council Tax and Business Rates.
The first way this Liability Order will affect you is through the provision of information. For Council Tax recovery, you must supply information to the Council which will consist of:
If the Council Tax or Business Rate debt is not paid upon the Council receiving the Liability Order then any of the following actions may be taken against you.
Attachment of earnings order (for Council Tax recovery)
The Council order your employer to make deductions from your wages or salary. The deductions are sent directly to the Council until the debt is cleared. The employer has no choice but to comply, as it is an offence to ignore the attachment order. They must tell you each time a deduction is made but may also charge you £1.00 each time a deduction is made to cover their own costs. The money is taken weekly, fortnightly or monthly (in accordance with your pay) and is deducted at a percentage rate in line with the amount you earn.
Attachment of benefit (for Council Tax recovery)
The Department for Work and Pensions takes money from your Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit and pays it directly to the Council until your debt is cleared. This is deducted at a fixed rate, which is presently £3.70 per week (excluding Universal Credit where deductions can vary on an individual basis).
Attachment of Members Allowance (for Council Tax recovery)
Where the debtor is an elected member of either the District or County Council, deductions of 40% may be made from their Attendance Allowance.
Bailiff/Enforcement Agent action by distress and sale of goods
The Liability Order enables the Council to send a Bailiff/Enforcement Agent to visit the debtor and ascertain what goods are available and how the debt can be paid. Ultimately they may remove goods and auction them, using the money made to pay off the Council Tax or Business Rate debts. There are, however, some restraints on what may be taken.
The Liability Order allows Sedgemoor District Council to bankrupt an individual or liquidate a company.
Committal to prison
On the Council's application, arrest warrants, backed with bail will be issued to secure the debtors attendance at the Court. At the subsequent hearing there will be an enquiry into the debtor's means and conduct in not paying charges. Committal, suspended or otherwise, may only be imposed if either 'Culpable Neglect' or 'Wilful Refusal' is found by the Magistrates.
This course of action has proven very successful in recent years and the Magistrates have issued many custodial sentences that have been suspended upon payment terms.
Any debtor subject to this action should consider seeking some legal advice prior to attending the Court hearing as a duty solicitor is not always available.
If you are in arrears with your Council Tax or Business Rates and wish to discuss payments or the action being taken against you, please contact us as soon as possible.