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Hi All,

 

I really need some advice regarding liability for Council Tax. My partner declared himself bankrupt last year and his Council Tax Bill was included in the assessment to determine whether he had enough debts. The Council are now chasing me for the debt, the debt has been handed to BALIFFS, however they have not gained access so the debt has been returned. I have now received a letter for an appointment with a Court Officer at the Council as they are considering a Committal Hearing.

 

I have tried to speak to them on the phone however it is extremely difficult. When I have tried to point out that they have removed my partners name from the bill and the debt is now solely in my name I am being told it was always solely in my name and this is not the case.

 

I want to be prepared for the meeting at the end of the week:-

 

FIRSTLY TO DETERMINE LIABILITY

 

SECONDLY I AM CONSIDERING REBANDING

 

AND FINALLY I AM CONSIDERING ASKING FOR A SARS.

 

There are a lot of inaccuracies with the bills and I need to get this sorted also.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Does anyone know what happens at these meetings?

 

 

KIND REGARDS

S13

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As far as I understand things, from reading around here and other places, just about the only way you will be "convicted" and sent to prison for non payment of Council Tax will be if you stand up before the Magistrate and refuse to pay or make an arrangement to pay.

 

You certainly cannot be committed to Prison just for refusing to allow the Bailiff's entry.

 

The CAB advice guide on Committal:

 

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/d_council_tax_arrears.pdf

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As far as I understand things, from reading around here and other places, just about the only way you will be "convicted" and sent to prison for non payment of Council Tax will be if you stand up before the Magistrate and refuse to pay or make an arrangement to pay.

 

You certainly cannot be committed to Prison just for refusing to allow the Bailiff's entry.

 

The CAB advice guide on Committal:

 

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/d_council_tax_arrears.pdf

 

Thanks for your kind response Caledfwlch that helps to some degree. However before I attend the meeting I wanted to know if legally I am responsible for the council tax bill as during that period and still I am unemployed. My partner was employed, however as I aforementioned he declared himself bankrupt and Council Tax are pursuing me for the DEBT. I REALLY NEED HELP WITH WHOSE LIABLE AND CAN THEY DO THIS!!!!!Any help would be appreciated. Kind RegardsS13

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It is correct that your partner can no longer be pursued for this balance as he is bankrupt- this leaves you as the sole liable person - if he wasn't bankrupt then the council could have pursued both of you.

 

For committal to prison the court must find either 'Wilful Refusal' or 'Culpable Neglect' , if they find these then they can jail you for up to 3 months but a jail sentence is given only in the very small minority of cases. Usually you will be given a court ordered payment arrangement with a suspended sentence.

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It is correct that your partner can no longer be pursued for this balance as he is bankrupt- this leaves you as the sole liable person - if he wasn't bankrupt then the council could have pursued both of you.

 

For committal to prison the court must find either 'Wilful Refusal' or 'Culpable Neglect' , if they find these then they can jail you for up to 3 months but a jail sentence is given only in the very small minority of cases. Usually you will be given a court ordered payment arrangement with a suspended sentence.

 

Thanks for your kind response, I attended the meeting yesterday and requested a SARS as I feel there are a lot of inaccurracies with their figures. Its a bitter pill to swallow that I am liable for the full amount as if I was a single occupant I would have at least got a discount. Im still baffled as the Council Tax was included in his petition for bankruptcy. Il wait for the SARS to arrive and then present my case to the council. I have heard in some scenarios the judge has written offsome of the debt based on financial circumstances I do hope this might be the case as I do not want to be indebted to the council for the rest of my life.Kind RegardsS13

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

Been trying to search for a template Subject Access Request for council tax on the site but no joy. Are there any templates online and if so could someone forward it to me. Im really interested to know of any cases regarding SARS request and the Council. Can the council chase for council tax that is 10 yrs old.

 

THANKS

S13

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Providing the Council obtained a Liability Order within 6 years of it being due they can still chase & enforce for it. There is no time limit and it will not be Statute Barred.

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Thanks for you response. Still trying to find a SARS letter for the council, I guess just using the normal format and tweaking it for the Council Tax will suffice.

 

Ploddertom, you seem to be very knowledgeable with Council Tax queries would you mind helping me draft up as SARS letter for the council as once I have requested this I can at least fight my corner as I have the info to hand. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers

S13

Edited by survivor_13
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Here is a simple SAR there are others I believe in the CAG Library, what you don't want is a load a waffle.

 

"From:

My Name

My Address

 

To:

Acme District Council

Acme Town Hall

 

Date

 

Dear Sir

Data Protection Act 1998

Subject Access Request

 

Dear Sir

 

 

Please supply a complete list of ALL the data held and used by you that relate to Mr XXXX. It is also to include third party information held with all other agencies.

 

Additionally where there has been an event in the account(s) history during the period accounts have been placed with you that have required any manual intervention by any member of your staff or any other person I require disclosure of any indication or notes which have been caused or resulted from that manual intervention.

 

I would like to bring to your attention data can be held in written information, e-mails, electronic documents, photographs, CCTV images, telephone conversations and include any recorded or written opinions about me/us and any recorded or written intentions and action taken regarding me/us.

 

I/We would like this information to be sent to my/our home address as listed above. You have 40 days in which to comply.

 

To satisfy payment to supply this information I/we enclose a fee of £10 this payment must not be used for any other purpose.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

A Peeved Debtor"

Please consider making a small donation to help keep this site running

 

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  • 3 months later...

HI ALL,

 

I received a Liability Order for Council Tax and have a hearing date for Monday 2nd July 2012. I sent an email and a fax to the Council regarding adjustment of the amounts as they are incorrect, however iv had no response. I will be attending on Monday but am unsure what to get prepared for the courts. Should I try and speak to the Billing Department this morning ( whichI no will be unproductive) or just carry on with getting prepared.

 

The Council states the arrears are 579.23, my calculation minus amount paid is 80.25.

 

ANY ADVICE WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATE, UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY.

 

P.S. I also want to make a DONATION is their any other payment method apart from PAYPAL.

 

THANKS

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I don't know what has led to these circumstances, but I would guess that you have made additional payments to the council after they had assessed what amount was outstanding. I wouldn't put it past council staff being given instructions to stonewall residents querying their accounts after certain recovery action has been taken by the authority.

 

The council's recovery procedures, which are laid out in PART V and VI of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, are seriously flawed.

 

They are flawed to the point that householders are often taken to court for the summons costs alone, because by the time of the court hearing, payments made to the council have reduced the council tax owed to zero. However, this flaw is convenient for councils as the income from summons fees amounts to £millions each year.

 

What your best options are, I'm not sure, but here is an account of what you are likely to be up against at the council tax liability order court hearing on Monday.

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I know I shouldn't be but I am astounded by these revelations and realise whether I attend or not the Judge willrule in there favour. My situation arose from "an overpayment" that I didnt have, I was unemployed and receiving CTBand then started work. I contacted the council when I received the overpayment amount and advised I needed a revisedstatement it never came. Hence the Liability Order, still unsure what grounds to defend on, however have got evidence with regards to IS and CTB and receipts of amounts paid. I feel I need to attend to see what really goes on though.p>

I don't know what has led to these circumstances, but I would guess that you have made additional payments to the council after they had assessed what amount was outstanding. I wouldn't put it past council staff being given instructions to stonewall residents querying their accounts after certain recovery action has been taken by the authority.

The council's recovery procedures, which are laid out in PART V and VI of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, are seriously flawed.

 

They are flawed to the point that householders are often taken to court for the summons costs alone, because by the time of the court hearing, payments made to the council have reduced the council tax owed to zero. However, this flaw is convenient for councils as the income from summons fees amounts to £millions each year.

 

What your best options are, I'm not sure, but here is an account of what you are likely to be up against at the council tax liability order court hearing on Monday.

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The grounds for appeal are very narrow. It basically boils down to the fact of wheteher you are liable or not to pay. It does not take into account your ability to pay or whether you are due any benefits.

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Morning Outlawla n Ploddertom,

 

Thanks for you kind responses. I will be defending on the grounds that I am not liable due to being entitled to CTB. I also requested a revised bill with the amended amounts and never received one.

 

DO YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD ENOUGH DEFENCE AND WHAT CAN I ADD TO MAKE IT A STRONG ENOUGH CASE.

 

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks

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As plodertom states the grounds of appeal are narrow and would think the Magistrate will not be allowed to use any discretion in weighing up individual circumstances. This is wrong of course and clearly not a procedure that resembles any normal court hearing where all the evidence of the accused should be heard and considered.

 

There are likely to be intervening council officials at the Magistrates' court. It is customary, on arrival of attendees at court, for council officials to prevent them appearing before Magistrates. You will need to state that you've been summoned to appear before Magistrates, not the council, if you are determined to be heard by the Magistrates.

 

If the council states you have no valid defence, this doesn't alter your right to be heard in the courtroom. For council officials to make such a statements only reinforces the fact that these are bogus and not proper judicial processes.

 

You may want to look at what some councils consider are and what aren't valid defences against a liability order:

 

I think they all state that you should contact the council if you feel the council shouldn't be pursuing you for a liability order. Another little "give away" as to who is really running the procedure.

 

I don't know how much costs they are imposing for the summons/liability order, but I'd guess it is more than the council will have reasonably incurred in obtaining the order. You could of course challenge the costs on the grounds that the council is charging you an amount which is more than the council has reasonably incurred.

 

This is stated in the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992:

 

 

Application for liability order

 

34.–(5) If, after a summons has been issued in accordance with paragraph (2) but before the application is heard, there is paid or tendered to the authority an amount equal to the aggregate of—

(a) the sum specified in the summons as the sum outstanding or so much of it as remains outstanding (as the case may be); and

 

(b) a sum of an amount equal to the costs
reasonably incurred by the authority
in connection with the application up to the time of the payment or tender,

the authority shall accept the amount and the application shall not be proceeded with.

 

(6) The court shall make the order if it is satisfied that the sum has become payable by the defendant and has not been paid.

 

(7) An order made pursuant to paragraph (6) shall be made in respect of an amount equal to the aggregate of—

(a) the sum payable, and

 

(b) a sum of an amount equal to the costs
reasonably incurred by the applicant
in obtaining the order.

 

 

Much of the expenditure that authorities claim are costs incurred to them in obtaining the liability order will likely to be costs incurred in the general administration of council tax and therefore NOT costs reasonably incurred by the applicant in obtaining the order.

 

EDIT:

 

I forget to add that I'd be interested if you would post details of the outcome.

Edited by outlawla
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Thanks for all your help Outlawla. I will be up tonight preparing my defence. Thanks for giving me an insight into what goes on behind the scences. My defence will be disputing the amount as it is inaccurate.

 

WISH ME LUCK, I'L LET YOU KNOW HOW I GET ON TOMORROW EVENING.

 

S13

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Good luck then,

 

Don't forget! When the council's court enforcement manager, or whoever tells you a hearing is not necessary, you will have that document which states you have been summoned to appear before Magistrates sitting at the Magistrates' court xx Address to answer the said complaint.

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Hence the Liability Order, still unsure what grounds to defend on, however have got evidence with regards to IS and CTB and receipts of amounts paid. I feel I need to attend to see what really goes on though.p>3

 

If he defence rests solely on CTB then the court cannot not grant the Liability Order, the high court has already ruled that CTB claims do not stop the council taking recovery action.

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Found this that might be worth a read:

 

Discretion at Council Tax Liability Order Hearings "Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards"?

 

 

This also:

 

Wise to the Council

 

"Alan Murdie explains the council tax tactics advisers can use to ward off the over-zealous enforcement actions by local government departments"

 

 

And maybe this:

 

Liability order hearings for local taxes

 

"Alan Murdie discusses approaches to summonses for non-payment of council tax"
Edited by outlawla
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Hi Guys,

 

Sorry for the delay but still trying to catch my break since last Monday as unable to fathom how the council gets away with unfair charges and regardless of the situation of why your in arrears which is generally the councils fault you still have to pay.

 

As Outlawla advised you dont get to see a judge and if you do you have to wait ages even though your given a time on the summons. I tried to hang in there to see one however time was not on my side - school run, so had to see the council enforcement officer. Who then sent me on a wild goose chase to go to the council and they would sort it out RIGHT!!!!. I was advised after waiting 55 mins to speak to DWP as they have no information on their system. I have sent 2 further letters and IS entitlement letter for the dates they are charging for and asked for a revised bill. I have had no response since, so I am going to the Town Hall today to take another letter and attached letters previously sent with evidence.

 

Received letter yesterday stating we have 14 days to pay or propose a payment amount, however unable to do this as need revised statement, so letter today will be regarding this. Seriously have had enough of the council, but see no way how you can ever win against them.

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As Outlawla advised you dont get to see a judge and if you do you have to wait ages even though your given a time on the summons

 

You could have seen the magistrate if you wished - the problem is that the hearing is scheduled for a set time however this is regularly bumped if other cases run over or a more urgent case has appeared in the court list. This is outside of the council's control and rests purely with HM court service.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

 

After several attempts to get the council to give me the accurate figures for our bill, we are now in receipt of this information. I am now in the process of writing a letter asking for the charges of 150.00 pounds for each year to be removed as the charges would not have been incurred if they had done their job properly. Has anyone been successful in getting such charges removed??

 

Kind Regards

Survivor

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