What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax?

You usually pay your Council Tax bill in instalments over 10 months.

Having problems paying? 

If you're having difficulty making a payment, contact the Council Tax team immediately and explain the situation - the longer you ignore a debt problem, the worse the situation becomes. Please contact the Council Tax team immediately.

Tel: 01483 523511

Email: recovery@waverley.gov.uk.

Additional support

Waverley can also offer additional support and advice to businesses via the Don't lose your home or business project.

The law enables Waverley to consider reducing a council tax bill on the grounds of hardship. More details.

If you fall behind with payments

If you fall behind with your payments or you are paying later than the dates shown on your bill, we will send you a reminder, giving you seven days to bring your account up to date.

You should allow three days for payments made at a Post Office or Pay Point outlet to be credited to your Council Tax account.

If you bring your account up to date and fall behind again we will send you a second reminder. No further reminders are issued if you have already had a second reminder.

If you don't pay

If you are unable to bring your account up to date or you are unable to come to a payment arrangement or if you make an arrangement to pay but don't, you will lose the right to pay in instalments and the full year's Council Tax becomes due.


The next stage is to issue you with a summons. When the summons is issued to you, you are liable to additional costs of £105.  We will ask the Magistrates' Court for a 'Liability Order'. This is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe. If the Magistrates' Court issue the Liability Order a further £3 in costs is payable.

You have the right to attend the court and offer evidence as to why you are not liable for the debt. Even if you decide not to attend court, you should speak to us or, if you prefer, Citizens Advice Waverley. We will try to come to a reasonable arrangement with you for payment but we cannot do that unless you contact us.

If you choose to go to the court hearing, the Magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted. The valid defences include:

  • the amount has not been demanded in accordance with the regulations for example, the Council failed to follow the correct time periods in serving bills and reminders; or
  • the amount has been paid; or
  • you are not the person named on the summons.

The consequences of ignoring a Liability Order

If the court makes a Liability Order against you, the Council can take enforcement action against you in order to recover the debt. This will usually mean either deductions from wages and benefits or the use of enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs), although bankruptcy and charging orders are other options. Once a charging order is obtained the Council may apply for the sale of your home.

Once we have the Liability Order, we may not contact you again before we move on to the next enforcement action.

Deductions from wages

We can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your wages toward your unpaid Council Tax.

The table below shows the amount to be deducted from weekly earnings.

Net earnings Deduction rate
below £75

no deduction can be made

£75 to £135 3%
£135 to £185 5%
£185 to £225 7%
£225 to £355 12%
£355 to £505 17%
above £505

17% for the first £505 and 50% for the remainder

The table below shows the amount to be deducted from monthly earnings.

Net earnings Deduction rate
below £300 no deduction can be made
£300 to £550 3%
£550 to £740 5%
£740 to £900 7%
£900 to £1,420 12%
£1,420 to £2,020 17%
above £2,020 17% for the first £2,020 and 50% for the remainder

Deduction from benefits

We may be able to apply for deductions if you are receiving Jobseekers' Allowance, Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance, or Pension Credit.

Enforcement Agents

We can send an enforcement agent to your home to seize property to sell. The money raised goes towards paying your debt, plus paying the recovery costs. We will not make further contact with you after the hearing and the liability order will be issued to the enforcement agent without further notice to you.

You can contact the enforcement agent and offer to come to an agreement on payments. It's important to do this straight away, because if the enforcement agent make a visit their costs will be added to your bill.

With effect from April 2014 the enforcement agent will charge £75.00 as soon as the instruction is received from the Council. If the enforcement agent attends your home a fee of £235.00 will be charged for a debt up to £1500.00.  Any debt exceeding £1500.00 will attract a further fee of 7.5%.  More costs will be charged if belongings are removed and sold at auction.

The Council's enforcement agent for Council Tax debt is:-

Newlyn PLC
London Office:-
180-188 Northolt Road
South Harrow  HA2 0LT

Tel: 01604 633001 or email: enquiries@newlynplc.co.uk  

Court hearing

If we have tried using enforcement agents but your Council Tax still isn't paid in full, we may apply to the Magistrate's Court for a warrant committing you to prison. We will only take this step when other efforts have failed.

Before issuing a warrant of commitment the court must hold a means enquiry with you present. A warrant will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect. The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

The court may decide to postpone the period of imprisonment on certain conditions, normally relating to payment of the debt over a period of time. The court also has the power to remit all or part of the debt.

Page owner: . Last updated: 15/11/2018 15:46

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