Council tax reminders and recovery action
We'll send you a reminder as soon as your instalment is overdue.
- If you receive a reminder, you must bring your account up to date within seven days.
- If you don't, the whole amount due for the year becomes payable immediately within a further seven days.
- You may lose the right to pay by instalments and further recovery action will be taken.
If you're late with your instalments more than twice in one year, you'll lose your right to pay by instalments and will have to pay the full amount that is due immediately.
If you've received a reminder or final reminder and are finding it difficult to pay the outstanding balance within seven days, we may be able to spread your payments over a longer period, particularly if you agree to pay by direct debit. Find out more on our get help with your council tax bill page.
- If your council tax is still unpaid after you're sent a reminder, we'll take further recovery action.
- This is done through the magistrates' court and you'll be sent a summons telling you how much money you owe and when the hearing will be.
- You'll be charged costs for the issue of the summons.
Contact us immediately if you receive a summons but can't pay the amount you owe, in full. It's unlikely that the summons will be withdrawn but we can agree a payment plan with you.
- At the court hearing we'll ask the magistrate to issue a liability order against you. This can be done even if you're not present.
- You don't have to go into court if you don't want to, but council officers will be there if you want to discuss payment of the money you owe.
The liability order gives us legal powers to recover the money you owe. We can:
- Request information: You must supply information regarding your employment and income details. It's a criminal offence not to supply this information once requested, or to give false information.
- Make deductions from your earnings: We can order your employer to take money from your wages or salary to pay to us.
- Make deductions from your benefits: We can ask the Benefit Agency to take money from your income support, jobseekers' allowance or pension credits to pay to us.
- Remove your goods: We use external enforcement agents to collect money owed to us, or to remove goods to the value of the debt. This method of recovery can incur substantial charges. Download: changes in law for bailiffs and new charges 2014 [PDF, 14kB]
- Take bankruptcy proceedings against you: We can start proceedings in the county court to make you bankrupt.
- Apply for a charging order: We can apply to the county court for a legal charge to be put on your property for the amount due. We will automatically receive the money plus costs when the property is sold. We can also apply to the court to request that a forced sale is made of your property.
- Send you to prison: In some circumstances, you can be sent to prison for not paying your council tax.