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Council Tax


Robert Guile

on 8 June 2011

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Transcript of Council Tax

Council Tax Liability The most important thing is to ensure we make the right person liable and...... This is usually the owner/occupier or tenant, or the landlord when the property is empty The landlord would also be liable when the property is rented to more than one person with separate tenancy agreements (HMO, House of Multiple Occupancy). The landlord would also be liable if the property is solely rented to persons aged under 18 If a single tenancy agreement is in multiple names then all named tenants are liable..... Any partner who resides in the property, even if they are not named on the title deeds or tenancy agreement, should be named on the account and.... Paying When an account is initially set-up it will be on a cash plan. By default this will be over 10 instalments. A cash payer also has the choice of paying over 1 instalment (April), 2 instalments (June/December) and 4 instalments (June/August/October/December) A customer can pay their council tax over 12 instalments if they choose to pay by Direct Debit. They have the choice of this being collected on the 1st, 10th, 20th or 25th of the month. They also have the choice of the 1, 2, 4 or 10 month instalment plans. Council Tax can also be paid by :

Credit or Debit card over the telephone, online or in person at the Civic Centre

AllPay card at a Pay Point facility or Post Office

Cheque made payable to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Standing Order

Cash at the Civic Centre Discounts/Exemptions Discounts A single Person Discount is applied when a sole adult resides in a property. A reduction of 25% is applied to the account. This discount is reviewed on a yearly basis. A Second Home Discount is applied to a person's additional homes. A reduction of 10% is applied to each additional property. This discount is reviewed on a yearly basis. Certain people are ignored or disregarded when deciding how many prople are solely or mainly resident in a dwelling. People under 18 and those solely or mainly resident elsewhere are ignored People who are disregarded are listed below:

People over 18 and in recept of child benefit
Recent school and college leavers under 20
Students under the age of 20 studying up to A level
Full-time students attending a college or university
Foreign language assistants
Student nurses
Youth training trainees
Persons in detention
Severely mentally impaired
Hospital residents and people in care
Certain carers
Residents of hostels for homeless
Foreign spouse or dependants of student
Members of religious communities
Members and dependants of international headquarters and defence organisations
Members and dependants of visiting forces

If all but one of the residents is ignored or disregarded, then a discount of 25% can be applied to the account Exemptions Exemptions with a time limit Exemptions on unoccupied properties Exemptions on occupied properties Class A: vacant property requiring or undergoing major repair works or structural alterations. (12 months) Class B: empty property, owned by and last used by charity. Can be furnished (6 months) Class C: empty and unfurnished property. (6 months) Class F: property left empty because someone has died. (plus further 6 months after probate being granted) Can be furnished. Class D: former resident in prison Class E: former resident in hospital or care home Class G: occupation forbidden by law Class H: held for minister of religion Class I: former resident receiving care elsewhere Class J: former resident gone to live elsewhere to provide care Class K: property left empty by students living elsewhere Class L: repossessed and left empty Class Q: left empty due to bankruptcy Class R: empty caravan pitch or mooring Class T: cannot be let separately due to planning regulations Class M: students' halls of residence Class N: occupied only by students Class O: armed forces accommodation Class P: occupied by visiting forces Class V: occupied by diplomats Class W: annexe occupied by elderly or dependant relative Class U: occupied by Severely Mentally Impaired (SMI) Class S: occupied by under 18s Council Tax was introduced on 1st April 1993. Each domestic property is placed into one of 8 bands (A-H), based on its capital value on 1st April 1991. The valuation band determines how much Council Tax will be charged. Disabled Relief Disabled relief is a reduction in Council Tax available if any resident of the property, including children, is disabled and the property contains facilities which are essential or of major importance to the person with disabilities; An additional room to meet the disabled person's needs (e.g. having a kidney dialysis machine, oxygen and other breathing equipment, physiotherapy or an additional downstairs bedroom Use a wheelchair inside, with the property adapted to allow wheelchair access An additional kitchen or bathroom to meet the disabled person's needs If the customer qualifies for Disabled Relief they are charged at the valuation band immediately below the current band. If the customer is already on the lowest band (band A) they will receive a reduction of one ninth of a band D charge Council Tax can also be reduced if the customer is entitled to Second Adult Rebate or Council Tax Benefit If an instalment is late a Reminder Notice will be issued giving the customer 7 days to bring the account up to date, including any payments that are due in the next 7 days.

If no payment is received a further Reminder Notice is NOT required and a Summons can be issued. If a customer has previously had a Reminder Notice and brought their account up to date but has fallen into arrears since, then a Second Reminder Notice will be issued giving 7 days to bring the account up to date, including any payments that are due in the next 7 days. If after the issue of a Second Reminder Notice the account is not kept up to date a Summons can be issued. Initial Recovery Action A Final Notice can be issued where a third payment is late or where only one instalment is due. This results in the right to pay by instalments being removed and the remaining years Council Tax becoming due and payable. If the customer agrees to set-up a direct debit an arrangement can be made to clear the balance. If the balance on the Final Notice is not paid in full or a suitable arrangement made within 7 days then a Summons will be issued. A Summons is issued to each liable party at least 14 days prior to the court hearing. The issue of a summons adds a cost of £55.00 to the account and will specify a court hearing date. If the amount on the summons, including costs, is received in full prior to the court hearing date then the matter will go no further. If the balance is not paid in full prior to the court hearing the Council will request that the Rochford and Southend Magistrate Court grant a Liability Order for the debt in question. This procedure will incur a further cost of £40.00.

An arrangement can be made to clear the balance but the extra £40.00 costs must be taken into account. Reminder Notice Second Reminder Notice Final Notice Summons 14 Day Letter A 14 Day Letter is sent after the court hearing date to confirm that a liability order has been granted by the court and that they have 14 days to pay in full or to make a suitable payment arrangement before further recovery action is taken. The 14 Day Letter also includes a schedule of the bailiff costs.

The letter does state that if they have already made a payment arrangement for the specified debt they can disregard the letter. Further Recovery Action Once a Liability Order has been granted the Council gains further powers to recover the council tax. And don't forget, when making an arrangement always get the customer's employment details if they are working If employment details are known an Attachment of Earnings Order can be issued to the employer. The amount deducted will depend on the number of attachments applied and the amount the customer earns. A maximum of two Attachments can be applied for each liable party. If the customer is in receipt of Income Support/income based Jobseeker's Allowance/Pension Credit/Employment and Support Allowance, an Attachment of Benefits Order can be issued to the Department of Work and Pensions. A small amount is deducted from the customer's benefit payments until the liability order is cleared. If the above two options are not possible then the liability order will be passed to one of the Council's bailiffs for collection. If the bailiffs are unable to collect the balance owing the liability order is returned to the Council with a Nulla Bona (No goods) certificate. Unless an AOE or AOB can be applied, the last resort is to issue an Application for Committal. Only one method of recovery can be taken at any one time. An Application for Committal specifies a court hearing date for the case to be heard by the Magistrates Court. If the amount due, including committal costs, is not paid prior to the court hearing, the magistrates can find the person guilty of wilful refusal or culpable neglect to pay their Council Tax. The maximum sentence that can be given is 90 days in prison, which can be suspended as long as the arrangement set by the magistrates is adhered to.
The magistrate also has the power to dismiss the case or remit all or part of the debt. If the customer fails to make a payment arrangement and does not attend the hearing the magistrates may grant a warrant with bail. This will be passed to the police so that they can then bail the customer to the next council tax court hearing. If the customer has been bailed to appear and then does not attend the hearing, a warrant without bail will be issued to the police. The customer will then be arrested and detained by the police until a court hearing can be arranged (usually the same day). Recovery REMEMBER: When applying an exemption to an unoccupied property, ALWAYS get a forwarding address always obtain the person's full name always obtain the person's full name and it doesn't matter if the tenancy agreement states that Council Tax is included in the rent, the TENANT is still liable A further reduction of 25% would also apply if the disabled person resided alone or with a carer or other disregarded residents The Council also has the power to enforce Charging Order or Bankrupcy proceedings. These are not commonly used at present.
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