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Council Tax Arrears Scotland: A Comprehensive Guide

Council Tax

Have you missed paying Council Tax? Then, it signifies that you owe a debt to the council. Additionally, you’re in arrears, and you’re not the only one who is dealing with Council Tax Arrears Scotland. A recent survey has stated that almost 30% of people are now considering diverse debt charities to get rid of Council Tax Arrears Scotland. 

So, if you are struggling too with Council Tax Arrear and you’re a resident of Scotland, then don’t freak out. Further, council tax arrears payment plan can go through a vast amount of debt. The statistics have even concluded with the amount of £999 on average. Thus, paying off such a huge amount of debt in a lump sum can go a little bit hectic. Find out what to do when you are stuck with Council Tax Arrears Scotland, here.

Council Tax Arrears Scotland: Things you Need to Know

Council Tax is one of the priority debts. It means that you are bound to pay Council Tax beforehand you pay any kind of non-priority ones. And, unsecured and credit loans are some of the examples of non-priority debts. 

If a water meter supplies you with the water, then you need not include the charges to council tax arrears Scotland; otherwise, the council would include the water charges in the bill. And the arrears would count in a similar procedure.

The council tax depends on the worth of your home in Scotland. Additionally, it relies on the number of adult residents of your home. When you are at least 18-year-old, you become a liable payee of the Council Tax bill. Well, the Council Tax won’t spare the joint tenants even if the bill doesn’t include their names. Similarly, if you are married, you and your partner have to make the payment to the Council Tax bill. This is termed as ‘Joint & Several Liability’.

What if you Can’t Make Payment towards Council Tax Bill?

In case, you find out that the Council tax Bill has accumulated into a larger amount and you can’t deal with them at one shot, then don’t fret out. You can ask the council whether you can make smaller installments to clear off the priority debt. Additionally, you might have to be consistent with the payment of the council tax bill monthly.

 If you’re not that sure about how to pay and how to decide the amount, then talk to a financial advisor. A proficient financial advisor would listen to your budget specifications and suggest accordingly. 

If you don’t pay attention to clearing off the Council Tax bills then the local council might pressurize you. And, if you keep neglecting the circumstances, then the local council might hand over the liability to the sheriff officers. Tackling sheriff officers on your own is nothing less than a nightmare.

Missing your Council Tax Arrear Scotland Payment

For your kind information, paying off Council Tax bills are mandatory for every resident. You need to pay off the bill either every month or at the beginning of the year. However, the council will remind you after a time span of two weeks of missing a single payment to the council. Basically, the council sends a letter to the individual who has missed the payment. Check the letter to discover how much you need to pay, furthermore.

On the other hand, the council can accoutre a warrant for sewerage and water arrears as similar as Council Tax Arrears Scotland. However, you need to pay the money in the next seven days and chill. The debt will be written off. Overall, you can proceed with paying your Council Tax bill as usual or in instalments.

Unfortunately, if you don’t succeed in paying off the debt, you might receive a final warning letter from the council. With the acceptance of the final letter from the council, you lose the opportunity to pay the Council Tax Arrears Scotland in instalments. Again, the council would command you to pay off all your council tax in one shot, within the next seven days. And, you are liable to pay off the public water, as well as sewerage charges for the year.

Further Consequences

Now, if you haven’t still paid off the Council Tax bill, the council can send you a demand. They named the demand for payment as a summary warrant. The summary warrant describes how and when you can pay the tax. In addition to this, the council would top-up a charge of 10% on the arrear you need to pay. 

Meanwhile, the liability of collecting the council tax arrears advice scotland goes to the sheriff officers. In case you can’t afford the lump sum payment, ask the sheriff officers whether they would provide you with an instalment policy. The contact details of sheriff officers would probably be mentioned in the summary warrant.

What if You are Unable to Pay the Council Tax?

You might often face a situation where you can’t pay your arrears. In fact, this problem is faced by many people in places where this tax is applicable. So, there’s no need to be stressed out, just get to know council tax arrears how far back.

In this type of situation, people often make the mistake of ignoring it or waste time in overthinking. You must steer clear such mistakes, as they will get you in serious trouble. If you don’t pay the bills, the authorities can take legal action against you. So, if you’re going through a difficult financial situation, you must inform the council. They can be more helpful than some people might think. All you have to do is convince them to give you some time to clear your arrears.

Show them proof of your earnings and expenditures for this purpose. You can also make payment arrangements to clear the arrears within a certain period of time. This would help to relieve a lot of stress from your life, being much easier on your pockets.

What are the Consequences of Missing a Payment?

After you get your council tax bill, you’ll get a time of 14 days to make the payment. If you’re unable to make the payment within that time, the council sends you a reminder. This is only to remind you about your due payment and doesn’t contain any threat of legal action.

It gives you a time of 7 days to clear the instalments. If you pay the bill within the given time, it will continue working like it used to. But, if you fail to do so, the council might demand a year’s payment from you.

Now, this would be more stressful, if you’re facing a financial problem. So, the best option you have is to make a payment arrangement with the council. If you fail to pay even after the last reminder, there will be a liability order against you, in the case of England and Wales residents.

According to this, the local authority has the right to take the necessary actions, to recover the debt. If you’re a resident of Scotland, there will be a summary warrant against you. In addition to that, the debt you owe would be increased by 10%.

What Legal Actions You have to Face?

After the liability order or summary warrant is passed, all legal methods of recovering the debt get a nod for the local council. Though they can’t use any of the methods whenever they want. There is a fixed order in which they have to take every step. They can only go to the next level when the previous one has failed. So, you can be assured that they are not going to take any harsh steps at the very beginning.

In the case of England and Wales, you’ll face the following actions:

  • A Visit from an Enforcement Agent

The very first step they generally take is to send an enforcement agent to your property. This agent requests you to clear the arrears. If you refuse or you are unable to pay, these agents can seize a certain portion of your belongings, that is worth equal to the debt you owe. The debt would be recovered by selling these goods.

In case, your arrears are not cleared even after the sale, you’ll have to pay the rest of the amount anyhow.

  • Direct Recovery from your Earnings and Benefits

They take this step only in case you don’t agree to make the payment in person. But, they can take this step, only after they get the attached earnings order from the court. This authorizes them to take a fixed part of your income, from your employer, through the court. In addition to that, they can also recover the money from your job benefits or allowances, if you have any. Though they’ll inform you before taking this step.

  • Charging Order

This is a method that is not as common as the previous ones. When the court issues a charging order, the council can secure the debt against your home. Now, what does that mean? It signifies that if you sell your domestic property, before settling your debt, you’ll have to contribute the money to clear your arrears first. Whatever amount is left would be rightfully yours.

  • Bankruptcy Petition

If any of the previous steps don’t work, the council can file a bankruptcy petition against you. Even though it means all your arrears will be written off, it would come at a high price. Your credit score would face huge damage, and then a negative implication on your reputation for being bankrupt.

  • Imprisonment

In England, refusing to pay council taxes is punishable by three months of imprisonment. Though the court can sentence you to prison, only if you have expressly refused to pay your debt. If you haven’t been able to pay due to financial problems, you don’t have to worry, there are no terms for imprisonment.

If you’re a Scotland resident, things would work almost the same. There’s a slight difference from the proceedings in England and Wales. In addition to your earnings, the authorities can recover the amount from your bank account as well.

If these are not possible, the authorities will take over some of your belongings by sending sheriff officers. If none of these measures can be applied, the court will pass a sequestration order, which is equivalent to bankruptcy. Not paying council tax isn’t punishable by imprisonment, in England and Wales.

Can the Enforcement Officer Forcefully Enter Your Residence?

The officers visiting your home are authorized to take over some of your goods/belongings. But, they simply don’t have the right to use any force to enter your home under any circumstance. Moreover, they can’t visit you at any time of the day. You’ll be notified prior to their visit, as well.  If they use any kind of unreasonable force, you can lodge a complaint against them, in the court.

Can the Council Write Off my Debt?

The council will write off the debt only when they’re convinced that you can’t pay it. They will file a bankruptcy or sequestration petition against you if they can’t recover the debt any other way. You also have the option to apply for a debt relief order, in case you reside in England or Wales. In both cases, your debt will be written off. An IVA can also help you clear your arrears by fair means.

Help with Council Tax Debt : Deal With Your Tax Debt Repayments

The Council Tax bills are generally known as the “priority debt” which can lead to some serious situations when you are unable to pay your debts. In case, you are struggling with your debt payments, you must take help from any debt advisors as soon as possible.

You will eventually need help with Council Tax debt when you are about to repay all the debts. All the best possible instructions are given here and you need to follow all of them to get out of the debts.

You Can include Council Tax Debt in IVA

If you have an IVA, you can include your council tax debt in it. It would be a great option and a way to clear your arrears. Since it is a formal agreement, the terms would be protected by law. An IVA also offers many other benefits and has its own share of risks, as well. So, you must go for it only after carefully considering various aspects.

Council Tax Reduction

If your income is comparatively lower, then you can avail this support. Termed as Council Tax Support, it allows you to pay a part of the council tax. Depending upon your circumstances, it can entirely write off the council tax. These are the following terms that might help you to get a discount:

  • You are the single adult in your home
  • You share the property who are not eligible as council tax payee

People who are not counted as council tax payee are:

  • A student nurse
  • A full-time student
  • Someone suffering from a mental disability 
  • Someone receiving a specific disability benefit
  • An apprentice

Moreover, you can avail the advantages of Second Adult Rebate in case you share the property with one of these:

  • An adult who earns magnificently low
  • A person who is unable to pay the council tax bill
  • Finally, an adult who doesn’t pay you the rent

The terms and conditions regarding Second Adult Rebate are quite complicated. Get in touch with your council tax arrears advice scotland to discover whether you can apply for it.

Sheriff Officers

In case you consistently fail to pay off the council tax bills, the council would hand over the liabilities to local sheriff officers. Sheriff officers possess the right to enter your property. Additionally, they can issue court orders against you. If you don’t take precautionary actions, then it can hamper your financial stability. Additionally, it can negatively impact your image and reputation. In this case, you can contact an experienced national debt line to find the true way of escape from the repossession of your belongings.

Summary Warrant

After the council issues the warning letters and you still have not made any payment to Council Tax Arrears in Scotland, you would receive a summary warrant. It is equivalent to court orders. But, you need not attend any court hearing. Local authorities can execute diligence with the help of a summary warrant. Debt recovery is possible with such diligence terms. 

Here are a few examples of diligence in Scotland:

  • Bank Arrestments
  • Earning Arrestments
  • Attachments
  • Exceptional Attachment Orders

The local authority has to serve a Charge for Payment before executing any of the above-mentioned diligence. The Charge for Payment provides you with the chance to clear off your debt in 14 days. If you fail this time, too, then the Sheriff Officers are appointed to collect the debt.

Time to Pay Order

Well, summary warrant and Charge for Payment are not the only ways to clear off your council tax arrears advice Scotland. Still, you can pay off the debt with easy instalment options. The Court can provide you with a solution named a Time to Pay Order. 

Usually, the council requires the debt to be paid off in the current year. However, the Court can extend the period for clearing off your debt. Make sure that you pay off the existing debt before it hits the new financial year. Or else, it would just sum up the existing new Council Tax bills.

Finally….

Don’t take Council Tax Arrears Scotland charges and letters too lightly. If you can’t make the payment, contact your council to pay off the existing debt in instalments. In case you can’t find a way to get out of the whirlpool of debt, ask for help from your nearby financial advisor.

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