Wealden District Council

Collecting Arrears: After the Magistrates Court

At a liability order hearing Magistrates will decide whether a council tax balance has been properly demanded.  If the sum is due and has not been paid a liability order will be issued.

If we get a liability order for an outstanding council tax balance we will have a number of ways to recover the debt. 

Important note

Before we take any action we will send a letter telling you about the liability order. The letter will ask you to make contact, firstly to make sure that all applications for ReductionsDiscount and Exemptions have been made where necessary and secondly to discuss the possibility of agreeing a payment arrangement.

If you have difficulty budgeting for your council tax or you have other debts which affect your ability to pay you can seek debt advice from a local branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau,

Where action is necessary careful consideration will be given to select the most appropriate recovery option from the following;

Instruct Local or Private Agents

Details of the debt are passed to the Council's Agents or Private Agents if the taxpayer lives out of the Wealden area. The Agents will visit the taxpayers property and assess whether there are sufficient goods and belongings to remove and sell to raise funds towards the outstanding council tax. For further information about agents and the fees that can be added, read this document on the reform of bailiff law.

Attachment to Earnings Order

Where the taxpayers employment details are known, and subject to the level of earnings, an order will be issued to an employer. The order places a statutory duty on the employer to make deductions from earnings after tax and national insurance has been deducted. The amount to be deducted is specified by a percentage scale contained in the order.

Attachment to Benefit

Where a Wealden taxpayer receives Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance an application may be made to the Department of Works and Pension to make a small weekly deduction direct from the income Support or Job Seekers Allowance which is forwarded to the council tax account. The amount deducted is up-rated each year. To find out what the current deduction is you can contact the Wealden Local Taxation Enforcement Team on 01323 443389 or by emailing enforcement@wealden.gov.uk

Commitment to Prison

Where Agents have been unable to secure payment and no other option is available the taxpayer will be summoned to a Magistrates court hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to consider firstly, whether a taxpayer has shown neglect in paying or refused to pay council tax and secondly, the Council's application for commitment to prison. The maximum term of imprisonment where culpable neglect or wilful refusal is found is three months.

Bankruptcy

Proceedings can be commenced where the outstanding council tax is greater than £750 and a liability order has been issued.  Where a bankruptcy order is made the Official Receiver or a Trustee in Bankruptcy may take ownership of and sell your house and assets. See our policy on the use of Insolvency and Charging Orders.

To see how we will decide what to do here is our Policy on use of Insolvency and Charging Orders(pdf).

Charging Order

Where a taxpayer owns a property and other recovery options are not available or appropriate and the outstanding council tax is greater than £1,000 and a liability order has been issued an application for a Charging Order can be made in the County Court. If an order is made and the property is sold or is re-mortgaged the value of the order will be settled from the proceeds.