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What Happens if I Don't Pay? - Council Tax

This page contain information about what will happen if you do not pay your Council Tax

If you are cannot afford to pay then please see out Unable to Pay page.

If you are on a low income then you may be able to receive Council Tax Support to help with your bill.

  • Check your eligibility for Council Tax Support
  • Apply for Council Tax Support

If you feel the bill is wrong e.g. you believe someone else is liable or you should be given a Discount or Exemption you should contact the Council Tax section as soon as possible.

What are the steps taken if I do not pay?

If a Council Tax instalment is not paid then the following steps will be taken by the Council.

  1. Reminder – Reminder letter sent
  2. Court Summons - If payment is not received following the reminder letter then a summons will be issued and the person liable will have to appear at a designated Magistrates Court. Further court costs will be incurred . There is no need to attend court if you accept that the Council Tax is due.
  3. Further Steps - At the court hearing the Council will ask for the Magistrates to issue a liability order. This will enable the Council to take further steps to recover outstanding Council Tax. See how the Council recovers unpaid Council Tax in the section below.

How the Council recovers unpaid Council Tax

The council may take the following methods when recovering Council Tax


The debt is paid off in a number of instalments

Attachment of earnings order

The Council can apply an attachment of earnings order. This means an employer deducts a percentage of money from your wages/salary to pay off the outstanding Council Tax.

Deduction of Benefit

The Council can apply a deduction of benefit. This means a small amount of your benefits are deducted from you to pay off the outstanding Council Tax.

Enforcement Agent

We may send your debt to an Enforcement Agent for collection. This will mean you will have to pay their fees, which can be high.

Any payment or arrangements for payment will have to be made directly with them and not the Council. Once the debt is passed on, we will not ask for it to be returned unless there are exceptional circumstances. They have the power to remove your goods if they don’t get payment in full or a suitable payment arrangement.

If you have any queries about bailiff action, please then contact the Enforcement Agency.

Charging orders

A charging order can be placed on your property. This means that when the  property is sold the remaining Council Tax is paid from the sale. In some cases the Council can force the sale of the property.


The Council can make someone bankrupt in order to realise their assets to pay off the debt.


The Council can take the debtor back to court and if proven that the debtor has shown ‘wilful refusal’ or ‘culpable neglect’ to pay their Council Tax they may be imprisoned.

If you receive a committal warning you must contact us to arrange to clear the debt. 

If committal action is taken you have to appear before the Court to answer why you shouldn’t be sent to prison for non-payment.

You can be arrested by the Police if you do not appear. The action will be for the amount of Council Tax owed, summons and court costs, any bailiff fees and additional costs for the committal action. You could be imprisoned for a maximum of three months.

What happens if I have appealed against my Council Tax banding?

If you have appealed against your Council Tax banding the Council Tax should still be paid until the outcome of your appeal is known.

If you are successful in your appeal any overpayment will be repaid.

For more information on how to appeal, please visit our Bands and Charges page.