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If you are having problems paying your Council Tax

Council Tax and Business Rates system update

Our Council Tax and Business Rates system will be unavailable on the morning of Tuesday 25 June until approximately 1pm. This is due to essential updates.

Our phone lines will remain open during this time, but we will not be able to update or amend any accounts.

If you manage your Council Tax account online, you will not be able to access this service during this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

We understand that some people struggle to pay their Council Tax. Please get in touch if this applies to you. We are always willing to listen once we know that there is a problem, and we will do our best to help you. This page outlines some help we can offer, independent sources of support, and the steps we may have to take to recover the amount you owe, if you fail to pay your bill.

Help to manage your bill

It may help you to meet your Council Tax payments if you ensure that you are paying your bill in instalments at regular intervals. We can also support you to find out if you are eligible for a discount, exemption, or Council Tax Support to reduce the size of your bill.

Set up a Direct Debit

If you have received a Reminder Notice because your payment is late, this is a good opportunity to set up a Direct Debit with us. Managing your Council Tax this way means your payments will come out of your account automatically each month, and you don't have to remember when they are due.

Visit the Paying your Council Tax page to find out how to set up a Direct Debit.

Spread your instalments over twelve months instead of ten

For operational reasons, we prefer to collect Council Tax over 10 payments, and we normally issue bills calculated this way. However, if this makes it harder for you to budget your expenses, you have the option to ask us to spread your annual bill over twelve monthly payments, instead of ten.

If you wish to take up this option, please you can use our online form to contact us. If you request this, we will automatically calculate any future bills this way.

Get extra help if you are on a low income

If you are on a low income, for whatever reason, you might be entitled to some help towards paying your bill. Council Tax Support reduces the amount of Council Tax that you have to pay, and is taken directly off your bill. Find out more in our Benefits section.

Check if you can get a Council Tax discount or exemption

We will ask you about your circumstances to see if you could claim a discount on the amount of Council Tax you have to pay, or an exemption from paying Council Tax altogether. Find out more in our Council Tax discounts and exemptions section.

Support to manage your finances

There are a number of ways you can get more online help with managing your money. If you are regularly struggling to meet financial commitments, we recommend contacting these independent financial support and advice services, which can help you to take control of the situation.

If you fail to pay your bill

Please contact us if you think you will not be able to make an upcoming Council Tax payment. It is easier for us to help if you get in touch before the payment is due. You can contact us by email at recovery@bathnes.gov.uk

WarningIf you have not paid your bill, and have not let us know, we may use enforcement action to recover the money you owe. Select the appropriate item below to understand the process and the consequences for you. Please note that some of these actions mean that you will lose your right to pay your Council Tax by instalments, or you may have to cover additional costs.

Single missed payments

If you have missed this month's payment, you can pay this now using our online payments system.

Direct Debit is the easiest way to pay your Council Tax and the best payment method to avoid missing any future payments. To set up a Direct Debit, visit Paying your Council Tax.

If you're unable to make the payment you have missed, please contact us as soon as possible.

Reminder Notice

We issue a Reminder Notice when our records show that you have not paid the latest instalment on your Council Tax bill. You have 14 days to pay the amount shown on the notice. You can pay now using our online payments system.

Please don’t ignore a Reminder Notice, because if we have to continue with recovery action against you, you may lose your right to pay by instalments, and have to pay the total remaining balance of your bill. You may also end up having to pay extra costs.

If you have received a Reminder Notice, we encourage you to sign up now to pay your future instalments by Direct Debit, to avoid missing any future payments.

Legally, we can send you a Reminder Notice for a missed Council Tax payment on two separate occasions in one financial year (start of April to the end of March). If you miss a payment for a third time, we will issue a Final Notice.

Final Notice

If you have received two Reminder Notices and have a third missed payment, we will issue a Final Notice. This means that you have to pay the remaining balance of your Council Tax for the year in full.

If you have received a Final Notice and wish to pay the full amount now, please pay online now.

Court Summons

We will apply to the Magistrates’ Court to issue you with a summons if:

  • you do not pay within 14 days the amount which is due on your Reminder Notice or Final Notice 
  • you do not contact us to discuss your options

A summons is a legal notice telling you that we have applied for a magistrates’ Liability Order for your unpaid debt. Issuing a summons costs £85, and we will add this to the balance of your Council Tax account. If you have received a summons, you should contact us straight away to discuss this. To avoid having to go to court, you must pay the amount on your summons in full (including costs).

The court hearing will only decide whether you have paid your Council Tax or not, not if you are able to pay or dispute being liable.

The hearing will be by telephone, you cannot attend the hearing in person. Details about this will be provided with your summons.

Liability Order

If a magistrate's court decides that you have not paid the Council Tax shown on your summons in full, it will grant a Liability Order. Obtaining a Liability Order costs £15, and we will add this to the balance of your Council Tax account. We will write to you to notify you that a liability order has been granted. When you receive this, it is important that you contact us immediately to avoid us taking further action against you.

A Liability Order allows us to request personal financial information from you in order to decide how to recover your unpaid Council Tax. This can include:

Attachment of earnings

We can ask your employer to make deductions from your wages or salary to pay towards the amount you owe. The deductions are set by law, and will be a percentage of your net earnings. For each deduction, your employer can take an extra £1 towards their administration costs.

Attachment of benefits

We can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to deduct an amount per week from your Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, and pay it to your Council Tax account.

Bailiffs / Enforcement Agents

Please note that 'bailiffs' are now called 'enforcement agents' and the law about how they recover debts has changed. Please read Enforcement Agent Fees 2014 for more information.

If we pass your debt to an enforcement agent to collect, they are entitled to add their costs to the amount you owe. If an enforcement agent contacts you, they will give you the opportunity to make an acceptable arrangement for payment. If you do this, but then don’t make the agreed payments, the agent may visit your home and take your belongings.

Enforcement agents (Bailiffs)

If we pass your account to an enforcement agent for collection, you may need their contact details:

Bankruptcy

If your total debt is more than £5,000, we may apply to make you bankrupt. You can learn more about what this may mean for you in this Guide to Bankruptcy. Please be aware that your home may be at risk if we have to take this action. 

Charging Order

If your debt is £1,000 or more and you own your home, we can apply to the court for a Charging Order. This is a way of securing the debt against your property. If you sell your home, you will have to repay the debt first, before you can take any of the sale proceeds. Please be aware that your home may be at risk if we have to take this action.

Committal Proceedings

We can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for your committal to prison, if the enforcement agent has been unable to collect your debt. You will receive a court summons. If you don’t attend court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The magistrates will assess your circumstances and ask why you haven’t paid your bill. If they believe you should have paid, they may issue a committal warrant and you could go to prison for up to 90 days.

Find out what other information and support is available by following the links in the panel: More on Council Tax and Other benefits and support.