If you are having difficulties paying your bill please get in touch with us straight away. Don't wait to receive a reminder letter or a summons.
Before contacting us
List all the money you have coming in. Don't forget to include both yours and your partner's take home pay, benefits, income from people who live with you and regular income such as works pension or maintenance.
Then list where your money goes. Your rent and mortgage are the most important bills followed by fuel and water. Council Tax payments take priority over debts such as credit cards, catalogues and unsecured loans.
From this you will be able to see how much you can offer to pay and it will help us to come to an arrangement with you.
When we sent you your Council Tax bill we told you how much you had to pay and when. If you do not pay as requested we will send you a reminder notice. If you are making regular payments, but are paying later than the dates shown on your Council Tax bill, you may receive a reminder notice and ultimately lose your right to pay by instalments because your payments are late.
You must pay the amount shown on the reminder within 7 days, this will bring your account up to date, then you need to pay all your instalments on time in future, or you may lose the right to pay by instalments.
If you don't pay then your name(s) will be added to a list that will be passed to the magistrates court. A court summons for non-payment of Council Tax will then be issued, and costs of £92.50 will be applied for to cover the costs of the summons and court proceedings.
What happens next
Once a summons is issued, then Trafford Council will apply to the magistrates court for a liability order for the full amount of Council Tax including costs unless the amount is paid in full before the court hearing date.
Your instalment plan will have already been cancelled by this stage, however under certain circumstances a special arrangement can be made after the liability order is granted, including costs.
It is your right to appear in court if you have been summonsed. However, you do not have to attend a court hearing but, the council will still request that £92.50 costs are awarded against you.
If you intend to attend the court hearing it may be advisable to contact the customer contact centre on 0161 912 2220 to discuss your account.
If you do not attend the hearing will go ahead without you and the liability order will be applied for (unless you have already paid the account in full).
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 defences that the magistrates will take into account before deciding to grant a liability order are shown below:
- That you have paid the Council Tax in full
- The amount has not been legally demanded because a legal condition has not been met.
This means we have not done one or more of the following:
- Passed a resolution setting the tax that has been published in a local newspaper
- Sent a bill to you, giving you 14 days before you have to pay
- Sent either a reminder and/or final notice giving you seven days to make payment
- Sent the summons at least seven days after the full balance had to be paid.
The local authority only have to prove notices were sent to you. We do not have to prove that you have received them.
If you do not have a valid defence, the magistrates will grant a liability order.
The following are not valid defences:
- You can't afford to pay
- You have applied for Council Tax Support, or a discount, exemption or other reduction
- You have an outstanding appeal with the valuation tribunal.
A liability order is granted by the courts to local authorities in order to give the local authority extra power to try to recover outstanding Council Tax.
A liability order allows us to take any of the following action if you do not pay your council tax. We can:
- Demand information about your job or benefits
- Take money from your wages (Employer's Guide to Attachment of Earnings)
- Take money from your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Pension Credit
- Take money from your allowance if you are an elected member of a public authority
- Use enforcement agents to take goods to sell to cover the amount you owe
- Ask for a 'charging order' to be made against your property
- Make you bankrupt, or in the case of a company put into liquidation; or
- Apply for you to be sent to prison.