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    What if I can’t pay council tax debt?

    There can be serious consequences if you can’t pay your council tax arrears. However the amount paid is based on factors such as age, income, tenants living with you and the value of your home. Local authorities often act quickly if council tax payments are missed as they are given extra legal power to collect them. As a result of this, Bailiffs could be visiting your property.

    How is council tax paid?

    You will receive an annual bill in March of every year stating how much needs to be paid towards your council tax bill. You can however spread the cost of your bill by paying in weekly, or monthly instalments. Although council tax bills often show payments over 10 months, if asked, your local authority must let you pay over a 12 month period.

    What are council tax bands?

    Local councils set the amount of council tax you need to pay based on your council tax band. They are calculated by looking at the value of your property at a certain time. April 1991 in England and Scotland, and April 2003 in Wales. Northern Ireland kept the old system of domestic rates and in 2007 changed to a modified system.

    Council Tax reduction and relief?

    You may qualify for council tax relief, which is a way to reduce your council tax bill if:
    You live on your own, you’re entitled to a 25{f43b76c379b5c5259dd4027910de94b6f545880b723aa1e73cef299f4fd05f71} ‘single person discount’. Also, some people are not counted when working out council tax. If you live with an apprentice, a full time student or a person who is significantly mentally impaired you may still qualify for a 25{f43b76c379b5c5259dd4027910de94b6f545880b723aa1e73cef299f4fd05f71} discount.
    You may also qualify for a reduction of your council tax if you’re on a low income. Local authorities have different thresholds for who qualifies.
    You need to ensure that you let your local authority know if your circumstances change so they can send you an updated bill.

    Arrears or missed payments?

    You will be sent a reminder letter if you are more than 14 days late paying a council tax payment. If you make the payment within 7 days of the reminder letter then you can keep paying your council tax in instalments. However, if you fail to do this you can be asked by your local authority to pay the whole council tax for the rest of the year. You are then given 7 days to pay the whole amount before the local authorities can take you to court. Your local authority then has several ways to collect the unpaid council tax, the most common ways are using Bailiffs, using your wages to take payments straight out using an attachment of earnings. And taking payments from your benefits.

    Council Tax bill wrong?

    You should always contact your local authority first if you are having any problems regarding council tax. If you feel that you have been unfairly treated or your council tax bill is wrong then you can make an official complaint. Your local authority needs to be given 8 weeks to reply to your complaint. if you are unhappy with the reply, you should contact the following. The links below are independent organisations who can investigate a complaint further and give you further help.  England – Local Government Ombudsman Scotland – Scottish Public Service Ombudsman Wales – Public Service Ombudsman for Wales

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    The Money Advice Service is an impartial service set up by the Government. They provide free debt counselling, debt adjustment and credit information services. www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

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