Council tax payments should be paid promptly on the dates specified in the notices issued to you by the council tax department at Mole Valley District Council (MVDC).
If the council tax isn't collected in time, MVDC has difficulty paying for the services it provides and in paying Surrey County Council and Surrey Police their share of the council tax.
Each year a recovery timetable is agreed to ensure that all taxpayers are treated fairly and objectively. It is not possible to check each reminder before it is issued due to the number of accounts administered.
Reminders are issued if a payment has not been received within 10 days of it becoming due. A maximum of two reminders will be issued in any one financial year. A second reminder will only be issued if you comply with the terms of payment contained in the first reminder and then fail to pay a further instalment by the due date.
If payment is still not received a final notice will be issued confirming you have lost the right to pay by instalments, and informing you of the balance due to the end of the financial year.
At each stage of the recovery process you will be encouraged to contact the Revenues team if you are unable to make the required payments as it may be possible to make a special arrangement to clear the account.
In some cases although an arrangement will be agreed, the council will still act to obtain a Liability Order, which will result in you incurring additional costs.
A summons will be issued if you have not made payment in accordance with the instalments shown on your council tax account and you have not complied with the reminders which have been issued.
The amount to be paid is the total due as shown on the summons, including the £50 costs incurred when the summons is issued. If payment is made by cheque it should be received by MVDC at least three working days before the date of the court hearing.
If payment is not received in full a liability order will be applied for and you will then incur an additional £40 in costs. All payments should be made payable to MVDC.
If you cannot pay the full amount on the summons you should contact the Revenues team to discuss the situation. Further arrangements, including payment by direct debit, may be made to settle the debt. However although an arrangement can be made it is unlikely to stop the council from applying for a Liability Order plus further costs of £40.
Disputing Liability or Costs
If you wish to dispute either the liability for the tax or the amount of the summons, you should immediately contact the Revenues team. If the matter is not resolved you should attend the court hearing.
Valid reasons why a liability order should not be granted include:
- there is no valid entry in the Banding List for the period of liability
- the tax has not been properly set
- the tax has not been properly demanded
- the amount demanded has been paid
- more than six years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due, or six years have elapsed since the debt was last acknowledged
- the sum is in respect of a penalty, which is subject to an appeal
- bankruptcy or winding-up proceedings have been commenced
The summons is a legal document requiring you to attend a court hearing. You have the right to attend the hearing to give evidence as to why an order should not be made, however you should note that the hearing can proceed in your absence.
If the magistrates are satisfied that the sum shown on the summons has become payable by you and it has not been paid then they will issue a liability order to MVDC.
A liability order is a legal instruction authorising the council to recover the outstanding sums by a number of means including:
Attachment of Earnings Order
This is an order to an employer to make deductions from the earnings of the employee. The defaulter must supply MVDC with details of their employment. Failure to comply could result in an additional fine of up to £500 for non-disclosure and £1,000 for supplying false information. Once the attachment is served on the employer deductions must be made and paid. The actual amount deducted vary with the income of the defaulter.
Deductions from Income Support / Job Seekers Allowance
If a defaulter qualifies for Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance and a balance remains outstanding then this may be collected by way of direct deduction through the Benefits Agency.
MVDC employs Certificated Bailiffs to collect the debt and/or distrain on goods and chattels to be sold at auction to settle the whole or part of the debt. The instruction of bailiffs will incur the defaulter with significant additional costs the amount of which is specified by statute.
Bankruptcy / Liquidation
MVDC could commence these proceedings against you in accordance with the Insolvency Act 1986.
MVDC may, if it is unable to clear the debt by way of distress, apply for a further summons to be issued for the defaulter to appear before magistrates for an enquiry into his or her means. Such action could result in a maximum prison sentence of three months.