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Hi all..... I just don't know what to do... received a summons today for non payment of Council Tax.

It's in both mine and my husband's name and although we live together we also live quite separately, and don't share a bedroom or anything ... we have separate finances, but, on account that I only get a State pension of £306 a month, he pays most of the bills.

He has a State Pension, a small private pension and he works part time... he gets about £2k a month.

Years ago, we had a joint bank account, and I made sure the bills were paid on time... but now I don't even have access to his account so don't know what's been paid or what hasn't until the (unpaid) bills drop through the letterbox.

Anyway, as I said, we are jointly responsible for the council tax on our rented property, and have been summonsed to appear at court as he apparently didn't pay the last 2 installments.

He doesn't seem to worry about such things but I am at my wits end and suffer from anxiety... I don't want to be someone who is being chased for money all the time.

Do I have any defence at court if I state that I am unable to pay? It's not my fault that I receive such a small pension... I had to take part time jobs years ago so that I could look after my children. I have no other money or savings... I don't see what I can do to avoid a criminal record.

I hope someone can help, please...

 

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Its simply a liability order

you dont need to defend nor attend

get it sorted with the council before they send bailiffs

but even if they do..they have no right of forced entry

read a few ctax threads on cag..youll soon get the idea


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Thread moved to the appropriate forum...please continue to post here to your thread.

 

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Do I have any defence at court if I state that I am unable to pay?

No - the simple question that the court considers is whether or not the money has been correctly demanded, the reason why it hasn't been paid is immaterial to the court.

Quote

I don't see what I can do to avoid a criminal record.

Although dealt with by the Magistrates' court it is a civil case not a criminal case.

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tnx SS missed the bit about criminal..


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Hmmm... I thought non payment of tax was criminal... my mistake!

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Thanks very much for replies to my post.

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No need to worry about a criminal record, I would ring up and try to sort it out with the council.

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9 hours ago, Dookist said:

Hmmm... I thought non payment of tax was criminal... my mistake!

It's because it's one of the few civil cases still dealt with in the Magistrates' court- from the Magistrates side it's dealt with under Part2 of the MCA 1980 (Civil Jurisdiction & Procedure). Council Tax is a strange amalgam of civil law with some aspects more akin to criminal law thrown in (i.e jail for non-payment). As an aside the fact it's civil has caused major issues in the past in respect of disputing decisions of the court as s142 of the MCA 1980 (power to re-open cases) was deemed to be only applicable to magistrate's criminal cases - it was eventually ruled that the courts have a common law power to re-open a case if needed irrespective of their being no statutory power.

 

 

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6 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

It's because it's one of the few civil cases still dealt with in the Magistrates' court- from the Magistrates side it's dealt with under Part2 of the MCA 1980 (Civil Jurisdiction & Procedure). Council Tax is a strange amalgam of civil law with some aspects more akin to criminal law thrown in (i.e jail for non-payment). As an aside the fact it's civil has caused major issues in the past in respect of disputing decisions of the court as s142 of the MCA 1980 (power to re-open cases) was deemed to be only applicable to magistrate's criminal cases - it was eventually ruled that the courts have a common law power to re-open a case if needed irrespective of their being no statutory power.

 

Now I'm very confused... so you can still go to jail for non payment, but imprisonment doesn't result in a criminal record?

Is it the same for the TV licence... that's a tax, too, isn't it?

 

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11 hours ago, London1971 said:

No need to worry about a criminal record, I would ring up and try to sort it out with the council.

Will do... I think he is just confused... when I was in charge of our finances many years ago, everything was paid by Direct Debit... but he refuses to do this, so it gets overlooked all the time... it's not as if they send a reminder or anything...

If only he would agree to a joint bank account and let me pay the bills, we wouldn't have all this stress... It really does make me ill and causes anxiety...

I definitely don't want to go to court...

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You will not go to jail for non payment, end of story.

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Posted (edited)

It is important that you get in touch with the council before Bailiffs are instructed, as the bailiff fees can inflate the debt sometimes exponentially. The next correspondence you receive will usually be from them. This will include their first stage enforcement fee of £75.

An ideal plan would be to negotiate a small sum to repay the LO together with ongoing payments of the current liabilities. I am afraid you are going to have to tackle your husband and remind him that this is a priority debt, even if the matter does not progress to committal.  

Edited by Dodgeball
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On 3/2/2019 at 6:06 PM, Dookist said:

It's because it's one of the few civil cases still dealt with in the Magistrates' court- from the Magistrates side it's dealt with under Part2 of the MCA 1980 (Civil Jurisdiction & Procedure). Council Tax is a strange amalgam of civil law with some aspects more akin to criminal law thrown in (i.e jail for non-payment). As an aside the fact it's civil has caused major issues in the past in respect of disputing decisions of the court as s142 of the MCA 1980 (power to re-open cases) was deemed to be only applicable to magistrate's criminal cases - it was eventually ruled that the courts have a common law power to re-open a case if needed irrespective of their being no statutory power.

 

Now I'm very confused... so you can still go to jail for non payment, but imprisonment doesn't result in a criminal record?

 

One of the odd features that further confuses people - you can be jailed for an offence that isn't actually a criminal offence and doesn't give a criminal record.  It's because council tax has it's own odd amalgam of legislation.

Quote

Is it the same for the TV licence... that's a tax, too, isn't it?

TV Licence evasion is specifically legislated for as a criminal offence.

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Posted (edited)

An important point is that you cannot be committed for having insufficient funds and therefore being unable to pay. It must be that the debtor had the funds, but decided not to pay, or purposefully disregarded the courts order to pay.

The court must therefore conduct investigations into the debtors resources before any sentence can be passed. We must support the allusion that no one in this country can be incarcerated for being poor.

Edited by Dodgeball
illusion or allusion could be either i siuppose

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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Which is why only 62 people went to prison for Council tax non payment in 2016/2017. Out of all the hundreds of thousands of people in arrears.

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Conviction for non-payment requires that culpable neglect or wilful refusal be found. In real terms the OP doesn't get anywhere near meeting that with a competent bench.

 

In April 16 to July 17 there were 95 warrants of commitment issued but there had been 134 suspended orders made against those 95 people first - so some had at least 2 suspended orders. The number of people convicted and who are never jailed will be a good bit higher. Many councils are very reluctant to use committal, even against debtors owing tens of thousands of pounds. If councils decided to make full use of committal applications the number of convictions would rocket.

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Thank you very much for the posts... the law surrounding council tax arrears is quite complicated.... we only owe 3 months and will scrape together enough money to pay...

A few months ago, we were told by DWP that we were entitled to a discount on Council Tax and Housing Benefit as our income fell below that needed to cover essentials... we are both 66 and only had our pensions...but my husband, who has never missed a day's work in his life, would not agree to accepting benefits, and went out and got a part time job, so I doubt we are entitled to anything now.

Not sure if the fact that we were entitled to a discount, but chose to live on our savings, (even though we had less than £5k saved), would cut it at court, though...

We will be sofa surfing in 3 weeks time as we can no longer afford to pay the rent and have given notice.

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What help options have you explored in terms of your housing situation?

CAB?

Shelter?

Contact your local Councillor about the council tax in light of your housing situation, you might be on the priority housing list.  There must be options? Other than 2 people who have worked their whole lives, sofa surfing.

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On 3/3/2019 at 10:20 PM, Dodgeball said:

An important point is that you cannot be committed for having insufficient funds and therefore being unable to pay. It must be that the debtor had the funds, but decided not to pay, or purposefully disregarded the courts order to pay.

The court must therefore conduct investigations into the debtors resources before any sentence can be passed. We must support the allusion that no one in this country can be incarcerated for being poor.

Ahhh... well, they could look at the finances but wouldn't find any money...

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1 hour ago, London1971 said:

What help options have you explored in terms of your housing situation?

CAB?

Shelter?

Contact your local Councillor about the council tax in light of your housing situation, you might be on the priority housing list.  There must be options? Other than 2 people who have worked their whole lives, sofa surfing.

 

I contacted the DWP and they sent me a form to fill in... they said we were entitled to a large discount for rent and council tax... the problem is my husband who chose to get a job instead of signing the form... we could have stayed here in our rented home, but he has made us homeless by refusing benefits... there's nothing I can do now, unfortunately. We are unlikely to be rehoused by the council because they will say we have made ourselves homeless... I'm just sick with worry...

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I've had these letters a couple of times. I just call up and set up an installment arrangement and that's the end of it.

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