Council Tax - What Happens if I Cannot Pay

Council Tax pays for local services provided by Stafford Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Police Authority and Staffordshire Fire Authority. If the Council Tax is not paid on time or at all, the precepts or charges for these organisations will be increased year on year to cover the shortfall.

Where payment is late or not made at all the Council will take firm but fair recovery action.

If you have difficulty paying your Council Tax by the date the instalment is due you should contact the Council Tax office to discuss your circumstances. Our staff will check your account and make sure your bill is correct (for example, perhaps you are entitled to a discount that you didn't know you could claim). Even if the bill is correct, we may be able to make an instalment plan to defer payment to a later date, or re-arrange your instalments to help you keep your payments up to date. Contacting us early may prevent recovery action being taken against you later.

If your Council Tax is not paid on time a reminder notice may be sent to you. Normally only one reminder will be issued in any financial year. After that, court action may be taken to recover the debt.

If you do not bring your account up to date following the issue of a reminder or a final notice, you may be summonsed to the magistrates' court. The Council will apply to the magistrates for a liability order, which will then allow the Council to take action to recover the debt in full.

The Council may recover the debt in several ways:

  • Appointing Enforcement Agents to recover the amount owed
  • Attachment of earnings
  • Direct deductions from Income Support/Job Seekers Allowance/Employment Support Allowance (IR)
  • Taking out a charging order on the property (if owned by the tax payer)
  • Bankruptcy proceedings
  • Applying for the tax payer to be committed to prison (if Enforcement Agent action is unsuccessful)

You will incur costs if court action is taken against you and you will have to pay additional costs if Enforcement Agents are appointed. This is why it is important that you contact us as soon as you experience any problems paying your Council Tax.


Tel: 01785 619279
Fax: 01785 619219

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