Find out how to pay your council tax bill, what will happen if you are late with your payments, and how you may seek financial assistance if you are unable to pay your account.

What is the amount of the council tax that you will pay?

The due date for payment of the council tax for the following year is April 30th or earlier.

You have the option of paying the total amount due in one lump sum or by making payments spread out over the course of the year; however, the most usual arrangement requires that you make ten monthly payments with a break during the months of February and March of each year.

To assist with the cost of the fine, some authorities will accept 11 or 12 instalments spread out over the course of the year.

The most preferred method of payment for councils is direct debit; however, you can also pay with cash, a check, or a debit card. The majority of councils will accept payments made by standing orders, internet banking, telephone banking, and Bacs. There are those who will accept payments by credit card.

It is against the law for councils to levy surcharges on any financial transactions involving credit or debit cards.

This guide explains what will happen if you are unable to make a payment on your council tax and what assistance is available if you are having trouble paying your bill.

Who is responsible for paying the council tax?

Generally speaking, a person is required to pay council tax if they are over the age of 18 and either own or rent a residence. The person who resides in a home is typically the one responsible for paying the council tax on that property.

However, there are situations when it is up to the owner of the property. The following are examples of properties whose owners are required to pay council tax:

homes that are not occupied nursing homes
houses of religious communities houses in multiple occupation where rooms are let individually residences of staff who live in houses which are also occupied by an employer residences of ministers of religion houses in multiple occupation where rooms are let individually residences of staff who live in houses which are also occupied by an employer

There is something called a “order of liability” that determines who is responsible for paying the council tax bill in a home where more than one person resides. Following is the order:

the person who owns all or portion of the land outright and resides on it in its entirety or in part
the person who lives on the property and leases all or part of it and is responsible for maintaining it
a resident tenant, a person who has authorization to live in the property but is not a tenant, any other resident living in the property, a mortgagee in possession of an owner’s interest, an owner of the property, while no one lives there, and any other resident who is living in the property.
What are the repercussions of failing to pay the bill for your council tax?

If you don’t pay your council tax bill on time, you could face major consequences, and the methods taken to enforce payment could get more severe very rapidly. Because of this, council tax bills are considered to be a “priority payment.”

The first missed payment of your council tax bill

In the event that you are late with one of your regular payments, your council should give you a reminder notice along with an extension of one week to make the payment.

It is possible that you will be required to pay the entire year’s worth of council tax if you do not pay within seven days.

Your second missed payment of your council tax fine.

In the event that you are late with your payment for the second time throughout the course of a given fiscal year, a second notice of reminder will be sent to you (1 April to 31 March the following year). You are only permitted a maximum of two notifications to serve as a reminder.

After missing your third payment on your council tax bill

If you have not paid your council tax for the third time, you will receive a final notice stating that you must pay the entire year’s council tax – and you will need to do so within seven days. This notice will be sent to you if you have not paid your council tax for the third time.

You risk facing consequences in the event that your council tax bill is not paid.

If you fail to pay the money you owe to the council within seven days, the council may pursue legal action against you, which may give them the right to reclaim the money by coercion.

The following is the typical order in which certain legal processes are carried out:

A liability order is a legal demand for payment that is delivered by a magistrate. This type of order is issued by a court. It’s possible that the charges incurred by the council in getting information sent to you will be added to your account. You have the option to go to court and explain your reasons for not making the payment if you believe you have grounds for doing so.
From your salary: Your local government can request that your employer deduct any unpaid council tax from your wages before those funds are deposited into your bank account if you haven’t already done so.
From your benefits: If you are entitled to receive benefits, the council tax that you owe may be deducted directly from your Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit. This is the case even if you do not receive any of these benefits.
Bailiffs: If there is no other way to recover the money you owe, the council may use bailiffs to seize your belongings and then sell them to pay off your debt. The proceeds from the sale will be applied to your outstanding balance. The total sum that you are responsible for will include the fees associated with the use of bailiffs.
Court: If the bailiffs are unable to retrieve sufficient property to pay off your debt, your council has the right to start legal action against you. The judge will determine whether or not you have a valid justification for not paying the debt, as well as whether or not you can afford to pay it. In the event that the court finds that you did not have a valid cause for refusing to pay your bill, you might be sentenced to a maximum of three months in prison and may be required to come up with a plan to pay off your debt.

Even if you believe the amount that has been charged to you for your council tax bill is incorrect, you are required to pay it and then file an appeal subsequently. This indicates that you won’t be subject to the enforcement methods described above.

Notifying your local council as soon as possible if you are unable to pay your council tax in full will give you the opportunity to work out an alternate arrangement with them, such as establishing a payment plan or requesting a decrease in your overall tax burden.

What happens if I can’t pay the bill for my council tax?

In the event that you are unable to pay your account, you need to inform your local council as soon as possible in order to prevent the repayment measures described above from taking effect.

There is a wide range of assistance that can be provided by councils; however, this assistance is granted at the council’s sole discretion and on an individual basis.

Reducing or rescheduling payments: It’s possible that your local council can reduce or reschedule your payments, either temporarily or permanently, depending on your situation.

You will typically be required to provide evidence that neither your earnings nor your savings nor any other assets you own are sufficient to pay off what you owe.
Hardship relief: you may be qualified for hardship relief if it is determined that you are going through “extreme hardship” due to circumstances that are not in your control. This will vary from council to council, but often, it will be provided in the form of an account balancing payment to assist with the management of a debt. This means that you will not receive any cash. It is typically only allowed for a predetermined amount of money and a period of time, with the expectation that you will resume paying your council tax after that period of time has passed. In most cases, you will be required to give evidence of both your income and your expenses.
Applying for a council tax reduction could result in a reduction of up to one hundred percent of your bill if you are on a low income or get benefits. This could be the case if you are eligible for such a reduction (this replaced council tax benefit in April 2013).
You are eligible to apply regardless of whether you own your house, rent it, are employed or are jobless. What you’ll get depends on where you live (because each council runs its own scheme), your personal circumstances, the income of your household (including income from savings, pensions, and your partner), whether or not your children live with you, and whether or not any other adults live with you. If your children do live with you, you’ll get more money. If you are eligible, the decrease may continue to apply to you until there is a change in your circumstances.

Does it matter if I don’t pay my council tax? How does that effect my credit score?

According to information provided by Experian, outstanding council tax debt will not have an effect on a person’s credit rating.

Credit reference companies do not receive information regarding delinquent council tax payments from local governments. Even if the case is transferred to a magistrate’s court and fines are levied, the information regarding the case will not be included on credit reports.

Changing your address in order to pay your council tax bill

When you move into a new home, you are required to notify the local council of your change of address and register to pay council tax. This must be done as soon as possible after the transfer.

You will be required to supply your personal information, as well as information regarding who you reside with, when you moved in, whether or not you own the property, and whether or not you rent it.

HMRC will be able to point you in the right direction by using your postcode if you are unsure of who your local council is.

After that, someone from the local council will get in touch with you and provide you with more information regarding the amount of council tax that you are required to pay. Utilizing our council tax calculator, you’ll be able to determine how much you owe.

You have the right to appeal this bill if you are in disagreement with its terms; nonetheless, you are expected to continue making payments while a decision is being made.

When I move out of my old home, how can I cease paying council tax?

If you move, you are required to notify the local council in advance so that it can stop billing you for council tax based on your previous address effective the day you move out of that residence.

If you are moving inside the borough, your bill will be adjusted to reflect the band that corresponds to your new residence.

If you are moving to a more remote location, you are required to inform your new council (as described above), and beginning on the day you move in, it will begin charging you council tax based on the band that applies to your new property.

There are a few municipalities that do not immediately reimburse any council tax that has been paid in advance, but the majority of councils do. If you believe that you are entitled to a refund for council tax that you have overpaid, refer to our guide for information on how to receive a refund for council tax.