Is Council Tax Unlawful?

Council tax can sometimes be a source of controversy as people feel that it is an unfair form of taxation and question whether it is even lawful. In this blog post, we will examine the legality of council tax in the UK and discuss whether it is indeed an unlawful form of taxation. We will look at the history of council tax, the regulations that govern it, and what it means for taxpayers.

Is Council Tax Unlawful?

No, council tax is not unlawful. This can be proven by the fact that there are UK legislations that govern council tax. These include the following:

  • Local Government Finance Act 1992
  • Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
  • Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011

Not only is council tax a mandatory payment for residents across the UK that becomes payable once a bill is raised by local councils, but it also does not require the consent of residents or for them to enter a contract with local council authorities.

Council Tax is a type of taxation introduced in the UK in 1993 to help local authorities fund their services. It is a charge on all residential properties in England and Wales, as well as some parts of Scotland, and is calculated based on the value of the property. The amount charged depends on which band the property falls into, with Band A properties paying the least amount and Band H properties paying the highest.

In terms of whether council tax is unlawful, there has been some debate on this issue, but the majority of legal experts believe that it is indeed lawful. This is because it is set by statute, meaning it is backed up by law. 

In addition, it is also based on the principle of “ability to pay”; meaning that those with higher-valued properties are required to pay more than those with lower-valued properties.

The key question then becomes whether council tax is a fair way of raising money for local services. Supporters of council tax argue that it is fair because it allows people to pay according to their ability to pay, while opponents argue that it is unfair because some people with higher-valued properties can afford to pay more than their fair share. 

Failure to pay your council tax can lead to serious consequences, such as court action, fines and even imprisonment. Therefore, people must ensure that they are paying the correct amount of council tax each year.

Is Council Tax A Fair Way Of Raising Money For Local Services?

The question of whether council tax is a fair way of raising money for local services has been debated for many years. Council tax is a regressive form of taxation, which means that those on lower incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those on higher incomes. This can be seen as unfair, as those with more money can contribute a smaller amount of their income than those with less.

On the other hand, some argue that council tax is a fair way of raising money for local services, as it allows those who benefit most from those services to contribute more towards them. For example, households with larger properties may use more local services than households with smaller properties, and so they pay more in council tax. This could be seen as fair, as those who benefit the most are also contributing the most.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal opinion and whether someone believes that council tax is a fair way of raising money for local services. While some may see it as an unfair form of taxation, others may view it as a just way of ensuring that those who benefit from local services are the ones who are paying for them.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Council Tax?

Even though non-payment of council tax is not a criminal offence, it is still a priority debt. This is the reason why if you don’t pay your council tax, you can expect the following situations to arise in chronological order:

  • If you have missed your council tax payment for the first time, the council office will send you a reminder to clear your dues in the next 7 days. If you are unable to pay the arrears within the due date, you will have to pay the remainder of the year’s council tax as a one-time, lump sum payment, rather than 10 monthly payments. 
  • If someone defers their council tax payments twice in a row, a second reminder will be sent by the local council office, asking them to clear their dues. There will be two such reminders sent to a resident within one financial year, as the next communication will be a final notice from the council. This final notice is a legal demand for the council tax debt to be cleared. All legal fees incurred for the debt recovery process will also be added to the council tax dues to be paid by the debtor.
  • If a council tax debtor is still not able to clear their council tax dues or agree to a repayment plan with their local council authorities, the council can have a magistrate court summons for council tax issued against the debtor. The court summons demands clearance of dues on an immediate basis or a court appearance in the next 14 days after which a Liability Order is issued against them. Should the resident clear their due before the court hearing, there will be no hearing or Liability Order.
  • If council tax dues are not cleared by the debtor and the date of the court hearing arrives, a Liability Order will be issued in their name. Issuance of a LIability Order increases the authority of the local council to recover the amount of council tax debt owed to them. 
  • Once a Liability Order is issued by the court, local council authorities can now deduct dues from the debtor’s wages through contact with the employer, have their benefits payments reduced if they claim Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, arrange a visit by an enforcement agent to seize valuables amounting to the council tax dues from the debtor’s property and in extreme cases, there can be court proceedings that usually lead to jail time of 3 months. 

If you are unable to pay your council tax due to low income or any other financial hardship, you should contact your local council office and request a 12 monthly council tax bill than the usual 10 monthly one. You may also check if you are eligible for a council tax reduction due to your circumstances so that you can afford to pay your council tax bill at a reduced rate.


The above discussion helps to conclude that council tax is not only a lawful tax but also does not require the taxpayer’s consent in the same way as income tax. Anyone in doubt can find evidence through the Local Government Finance Act 1992The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 or The Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011.


The law related to Council Tax

Council Tax – is it Lawful? – a Freedom of Information request to Maidstone Borough Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

Hundreds jailed for unpaid council tax | Financial Times