What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax

Council Tax is used to pay for vital local services.

Setting up a Direct Debit to pay your Council Tax ensures you never miss a payment.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, there may be something you can do to help manage your finances.

If you miss a payment

If you miss a payment we will send you a first reminder, which will give you seven days to pay the outstanding amount. If you do not bring your account up to date within that time you will lose the right to pay by instalments and will need to pay the full year's Council Tax to prevent a summons being issued.

If you bring your account up to date after a first reminder has been sent but fall behind again we will send you a second reminder notice. You will have seven days to bring your account up to date, otherwise you will lose the right to pay by instalments and will need to pay the full amount for the year to prevent a summons being issued.

If you fail to pay a third instalment on time, or you pay less than the amount shown as being due on a first or second reminder, a final notice will be issued. Once a final notice has been issued you will automatically lose the right to pay in instalments, and will need to pay the full year's Council Tax within seven days. If you fail to pay the amount in full within seven days then a summons will be issued.

If we issue you with a court summons

Costs will be added to your account if we have to issue you with a summons to appear in court.

  • If you receive a court summons and pay the full amount, plus costs, before the stated hearing date no further action will be taken.
  • If you cannot pay the full amount and would like to make alternative payment arrangements, please contact us immediately so we can discuss your circumstances. You may incur some additional costs.
  • If you do not think you are liable for the payments please contact us in writing immediately, stating the reasons why. We will then investigate.

Liability orders

We will apply for a liability order on the day of the court hearing, which will incur additional costs.

A liability order gives us the power to do the following to help pay off the outstanding amount:

  • request information about your income
  • ask for deductions from your earnings through an attachment of earnings order
  • ask for deductions from your benefits
  • pass the debt on to enforcement agents (bailiffs)
  • take insolvency action against you (either personally or corporately)
  • place a charging order against your property so that the outstanding Council Tax is paid from the proceeds of any future sale of the property
  • take committal action, which could lead to a custodial sentence

Once we have a liability order we will send you a request for information form asking you to supply details of your income and spending.

You then have 14 days to do one of the following:

  • pay the outstanding amount in full
  • contact us to discuss your payment plan options
  • complete the request for information form and return it to us

If after 14 days you don't contact us and you don't pay what you owe, the debt will be passed on to our appointed civil enforcement agents (bailiffs). Additional fees will then apply.

Enforcement agents (bailiffs)

If we have to refer your case to enforcement agents, an additional compliance fee of £75 is added to your debt.

The enforcement agents will contact you to discuss payment. If they are unsuccessful in making contact with you to agree payment arrangements and it becomes necessary for them to visit you at home a further £235 will be added to your debt.

You can avoid an enforcement agent visiting your home to collect debts by paying the money you owe. It's therefore really important you contact us as soon as possible to discuss your debt, so that further actions against you can hopefully be avoided.

You can find out more about how enforcement agents can collect debts here:

Back to top

Contact Details

Contact details

Adur Council Tax

Telephone01273 263111 (9am to 5pm, Mon to Fri)

EmailEmail this service (revsbens@adur-worthing.gov.uk)

Full contact detailsFull contact details (Adur Council Tax)

Worthing Council Tax

Telephone01903 221061 (9am to 5pm, Mon to Fri)

EmailEmail this service (revsbens@adur-worthing.gov.uk)

Full contact detailsFull contact details (Worthing Council Tax)

Need Assistance?

Need assistance?

Get in touch

Page last updated: 23 November 2020