Can Council Tax Summons Be Illegal?
If you have received Council Tax Summons and want to know if it is illegal, you will find guidance through the following blog post. In addition to this, we will also explain what to expect if you receive the summons and the actions you can take in your defence.
Can Council Tax Summons Be Illegal?
Council Tax Summons cannot be illegal unless you have been issued one as part of a scam. When it comes to Council Tax Summons, this is a legal document, authorised and issued by a Magistrate’s Court at the request of local council authorities to recover council tax dues.
There were some incidents in recent years in which residents received Council Tax Summons, issued by local authorities, demanding clearance of council tax dues. However, the scam was proven when some residents contacted their local authorities and realised that Council Tax Summons can only be authorised by a Magistrate’s Court and not the local council itself.
Another point to keep in view in such a case is that Council Tax Summons are not issued without a warning. If you have received Council Tax Summons without a warning, it is possible that they are illegal and part of a scam.
When Council Tax Court Summons are righteously issued, they are preceded by reminders from the local council authorities asking for clearance of council tax dues.
Below is a list of steps taken by the local council before issuing council tax court summons:
- The local council office will send the first reminder to clear council tax dues within 7 days when a resident fails to make a council tax payment and the due date has passed.
- Should the resident respond to this reminder, a mutual course of action such as a payment plan may be worked out.
- In the other case, the council office sends a second reminder for debt clearance.
- Within the financial year of April-March, residents only receive 2 reminders. If they miss a payment for the third time a final notice will be sent that indicates a legal demand to be issued along with a liability order.
If these steps apply to your case, your Council Tax Summons is legal and should be abided by. In the other case, it may be illegal and part of a scam. You should get in touch with your local council office and inform them of this.
Council Tax Court Summons is a legal document that demands debtors to clear their council tax dues within 14 days of being issued the summons, agree to a payment play or appear in court to defend themselves.
What Should You Do If You Receive A Council Tax Court Summons?
If you have been issued a court summons for council tax dues, you should first check if the debt is yours. If it is, you will have to clear your council tax debt; whether it is in the form of a lump sum payment or a mutually agreed, instalment-based repayment plan. You will also have to appear at a court hearing and bear the fee of the entire legal proceedings. In some cases, you may also have to pay a fine.
The first action that you should take if you receive a court summons for council tax is to check the debt and your finances to work out your repayment options. If the court summons has been issued to you in error, you should gather evidence so that you can challenge the claim.
Secondly, you will need to prepare for a court hearing. While the Magistrate will not give you the option to explain yourself for missed payments, if you believe that you have been issued a Council Tax Court Summons in error, you can use the opportunity to present your defence.
Finally, if you are unable to repay your council tax debt before the date mentioned in the Council Tax Court Summons, you will potentially be issued a Liability Order.
This means that you will need to be prepared to have deductions made from your wages, pension payments or benefits claim on the order of the court. They can also have bailiffs visit your house to collect valuables that can be sold to recover the amount of council tax you owe to the authorities.
What Happens During A Court Hearing For Council Tax Court Summons?
Unlike the belief of some council tax debtors, a court session for Council Tax Court Summons does not involve a debate between local councils and the debtors. It marks the announcement of a Liability Order against the debtor; which may also be done in their absence (should they choose not to attend the court proceedings).
If the debtor has evidence to prove that they have been issued a Court Summons in error, they can present the evidence during the court hearing and defend themselves. Otherwise, they will simply have to abide by the instructions laid down by the Magistrate during the session.
If you have faced any of the following situations, you should declare them as part of your defence during the court hearing so that a Liability Order is not raised against you:
- there is a calculation error in the council tax bill
- the bill has not been properly set
- the debt was cleared before the court hearing
- the Valuation List does not mention the said property
- it has been more than six years since the debt was raised (this means the debt is to be written off due to being statute barred)
- the resident has declared bankruptcy and proceedings have started
- an administration order has been made through the County Court Act 1984
The above discussion brings us to the conclusion that a Council Tax Court Summons is a legal document issued by a Magistrate at the request of local council authorities when they have not been able to recover council tax dues from residents.