If you have council tax arrears and want to find support, you might be interested in using a free council tax debt forum. Whether your arrears started today or months ago, these forums can help a lot.
These online forums are excellent if you want advice about paying off your council debts, liability orders, bailiffs and much more. You can create your own posts and get answers on the same day from knowledgeable people and even finance professionals.
We explain what council tax debt forums are around and answer some of the most common questions asked on these forums right here.
What are council tax arrears?
Council tax arrears are when you have debts with the council because you missed a monthly payment or more. You may have outstanding council tax debts if you wrongfully claimed a discount or failed to inform the local authority that your circumstances changed, meaning you no longer qualify for a discount.
You can be fined for wrongfully claiming a discount and the amount owed can be backdated. You can also be given a fine unless you made a genuine error and notify the local authority first.
How do I deal with council tax arrears?
If you have council tax arrears, you should deal with them by communicating with the council and explaining that you have financial difficulty making it hard for you to afford the bill. Don’t hope they will forget and stop contacting you. Call them as soon as you can.
Explaining your details and financial situation to the council may make them offer you a repayment agreement that you can afford. This spreads the cost of payments and prevents other debts from materialising.
You could tackle your arrears in other ways through debt solutions! More information on these solutions can be found here – and on a council tax forum.
And don’t forget to see if you can claim a reduction. You will usually qualify if you receive benefits such as Universal Credit, or if you live alone or with children!
Council tax debt forums that can help!
Take a look at the different council tax forum options you have at your fingertips. Most of the time you will need to become a member to post and join the discussion – but their service is free to use.
#1: Money Saving Expert
This is a finance blog spearheaded by TV’s money expert Martin Lewis covering all types of topics and the latest news.
Within the blog, there is a forum for people to discuss their situation, including many posts on council tax arrears. It’s free, easy to search the threads, and the site gets a lot of traffic so you receive responses quicker than other council tax forums.
Sounds great? Act now to become a member and start to post your queries!
#2: Legal Beagles Forum
Legal Beagles is another renowned forum, originating in March 2007. It has two forums that will cover council tax queries, namely the debts forum and the legal forum.
They have a lot of posts to do with bailiffs and what you can legally do to deal with them. We recommend checking out the posts on this forum if you have already been contacted by enforcement agents.
#3: Net Mums
Net Mums is probably not one of the first forums you thought of to do with finance. Although it is predominantly about parenting and pregnancy, many debtor topics pop up which can be useful if you are tackling council debts.
They also have a large user base so member posts get answered quickly, and you can find out the latest news too.
#4: Various IVA forums
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a solution to get out of multiple debts. It is a complicated solution, which has given rise to a number of dedicated IVA forums. An IVA is not always suitable for small council debts, but council debts do come up often within their posts. The posts and threads on these forums tend to be monitored for misinformation as well.
Every member is made to feel welcome at any of the best IVA forums.
Will the council send bailiffs for council tax debt?
Your local council can send a bailiff to recover the debt you owe, but this can only happen after they file for legal proceedings. The court must issue a liability order and you must have continued to not pay your bill for a bailiff to be sent.
You can avoid this by replying to your council’s notice to pay before it escalates to court action.
The bailiff will give you a final chance to pay your arrears or agree to a secured payment plan known as a Controlled Goods Agreement. They will first contact you with a letter explaining this, and if you do not communicate with them in seven clear days, they may come to your house.
Council tax arrears – bailiff advice please!
If enforcement agents are used, you will have to pay their costs. It is best to get advice from a charity and search reliable forums for answers to your questions.
But we can provide insights too!
When the bailiff first contacts you, you have the chance to pay in full or sign a payment plan secured against your valuables (CGA). It can be worthwhile doing either of these things if possible because it avoids the need for them to come to your property and repossess items. And just as important, it can prevent you from paying expensive service fees for having to visit.
After they have written to you, you have seven days from the date of receipt to reply – don’t put it off.
If you are classed as a vulnerable person, the bailiff must provide an opportunity for you to receive debt advice before coming to your house and repossessing items. Call them and let them know if you are vulnerable.
You never have to let a bailiff inside your home, but they can enter your property to seize valuables if the door is open or unlocked. They can only force entry if you accept a CGA and do not stick to it. But they must give notice of their intended arrival and cannot harm you.
What is an attachment of earnings?
An attachment of earnings is a method to get you to pay your debt after a liability order has been granted. The attachment of earnings forces your employer to deduct income from your wages before you receive them.
Alternatively, it can be used to take payments from your DWP benefits. Some of the government benefits it can target are Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.
The attachment of earnings can never be used to leave you in financial hardship, so you shouldn’t lose too much of your benefit amount.
Can you go to prison for council tax debt?
You can be sent to prison for up to 90 days for not paying off your council tax arrears. If the council does not recover the money using enforcement actions, they can ask the Magistrates’ Court for a hearing to decide if you are willfully neglecting or rejecting making payments.
This is not the same as not having enough income to pay the debt on top of your essential spending (rent, groceries etc.). But if they decide you have not paid back what you owe when you have the funds to do so, you could be sent to jail.
How long can you be chased for a council tax debt?
You can be chased for a council tax debt until it becomes legally unenforceable, known as Statute Barred in the Limitations Act 1980.
In England and Wales, this is six years from the date the debt originated. Or six years from the last time you contributed to paying it off. For example, if you made a payment towards the debt 12 months ago, the countdown resets and the debt remains enforceable for another five years.
We’re sorry to say, but the equivalent laws in Scotland are not so friendly; you can be chased for up to 20 years for council tax arrears north of Hadrian’s Wall.
How do I write off my council tax debt?
You can write off your council tax debt by asking the local authority in a letter. It is extremely rare for a local authority to write off the debt, and a more feasible way to have it written off is using a debt solution like a Debt Relief Order.
Where else can I get council tax debt support and advice?
Don’t just use a forum to get advice!
You are always welcome to contact the various free charities that offer excellent support and guidance when dealing with local councils, legal action and enforcement agents. They cover all the details in easy language.
And of course, use our free guides and blogs to get clear answers to confusing questions.