Councils decide what to tax to charge householders once a year, normally around February time, and the bills for the coming year are sent out early in March. These can be paid annually in one lump sum or over the course of 10 or 12 months, either by direct debit, online or in person at the council offices. If your circumstances change, new bills will be sent out
This is the time to carefully check over your bill and make sure that you are receiving all of the discounts and reductions you should be. The council can only go on the information that is either in its files or you have given to it. If this information is incorrect, it is important to contact your local authority’s council tax department to update the information. An amended bill will then be sent to you which will include any discounts and reductions you are entitled to.
For example, you may believe that:
Pay your council tax bill using a method that suits your lifestyle best
If the council does not believe that you qualify for a discount or reduction, you can appeal the council’s decision and ask for an assessor to visit so you can make a case for why you should not be paying what you have been asked to.
If the assessor or the council still believes you are not due a discount or a reduction but you do, the final step is for you to appeal to an independent valuation committee to hear your case. Although the proceedings are informal, there is an opportunity to state your case and have witnesses give evidence.
The committee is drawn together by the Sheriff Principal and the members are independent. None of them are qualified in valuation or legal matters, although there will be a qualified solicitor to hand if needed. They are there because – like you – they are liable to pay council tax. You can either present your own arguments about why you should not be paying what you have been asked to, or you can be represented by a solicitor, surveyor, friend or member of your family.
“I would like to thank Council Tax Advisors. For all the help and support I was given in helping me sort out my council tax. I have a peace of mind knowing at the end of the phone there is help and understanding”
If you cannot pay your council tax and you fall into arrears, the council will send you a reminder and request that you pay that instalment within seven days. If you don’t, the council will refuse to allow you to pay by monthly instalments and send a final notice for you to pay the full annual amount of council tax within 14 days. At this point it may be possible for you to contact the council and rearrange to pay your arrears back across future monthly payments if they are reinstated.
However, it is at the council’s discretion and it is still possible to lose the right to make monthly payments even if you do pay your missing instalment as soon as possible. This will usually be because you have missed paying several instalments on time in the past, and the council believe it is an indication that you may default again in the future.
If after your final reminder notice you still cannot pay your council tax arrears, the council may ask the Sheriff Officers to pursue you for the debt you owe.
Before you get to this point, it’s a good idea to speak to someone who can help you talk through some of your options. Our advisers are extremely knowledgeable about tackling council tax debt, and can talk through the situation with you and the options available in confidence. They can even help negotiate a payment plan for you with the council