What happens if you don't or can't pay

If you are having difficulty paying your Council Tax, you must contact us immediately. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page. If you don't pay your Council Tax by the due date given on your bill, recovery action will begin. All taxpayers will be subject to the same recovery procedures in accordance with Council Tax legislation.

If you miss an instalment, we will send you a reminder. This gives you 7 days to bring your account up to date. If this reminder notice is not paid, the right to pay by monthly instalments is lost and the Council will begin formal legal proceedings.

If a summons is issued, this will be for the balance of the Council Tax for the whole financial year, together with any costs incurred. If you settle in full this amount (including costs) shown on the Summons before the court hearing date, no further action will be taken. If you pay the outstanding charge but not the Summons costs, legal action will continue.

Before a court hearing, we will be willing to discuss a mutually acceptable payment arrangement but this will be on the understanding that the Council continues with the legal action. We will still attend the hearing to request the Magistrates grant a Liability Order, and thereby secure the debt.

The Liability Order gives the Council powers to recover the amount that you owe by attaching to your benefit, attaching to your earnings, instructing an Enforcement Agent to collect the outstanding Council Tax, obtaining a Charging Order, commencing bankruptcy or committal proceedings.

Details of recovery proceedings

Attachment of Earnings Order

  • Deducting money directly from earnings is called an Attachment of Earnings Order.
  • We don't need to contact you or obtain your permission. However we do send you a copy of the Attachment of Earnings Order for your records.
  • The order is sent to your employer and they start deducting money from your next available wage. Download our Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Order guidance.
  • The amount deducted is a percentage of your earnings. The more you earn the greater the deduction.
  • To stop the deductions you must pay the amount due in full. You should also contact us so we can tell your employer to stop making deductions from your wage once your payment is received.

Attachment to Benefits

  • We can deduct money directly from your benefits.
  • We don't need to contact you or obtain your permission.
  • Once we know your income details we send the order to the Department of Work and Pensions .
  • They start deducting money straight away.
  • The amount deduction is a fixed amount per week
  • To stop the deductions you must pay the amount due in full. You should also contact us so we can tell the benefits office to stop making deductions from your benefits once your payment is received

 Enforcement Agents (formerly bailiffs)

  • Your liability order notification warns that Enforcement Agents may call after 14 days.
  • Enforcement Agents can add costs as soon as they are instructed. They will send you a Notice of Enforcement giving you 7 days to make payment.
  • The Enforcement Agent will give you the opportunity to make an arrangement for payment.
  • Additional costs are added to the debt if an Enforcement Agent has to visit you home and further costs added if they have to remove your goods. Please see 'Taking Control of Goods' for details of charges.

Charging Orders

We can apply for a Charging Order, if you own your own home. You will incur costs if the County Court grant the order. Thereafter if an application for an order of sale is made you will incur substantial costs and ultimately could lose your home.


We can apply to make you bankrupt if you owe more than £5,000 in Council Tax. Bankruptcy is a serious matter. If you are made bankrupt you will incur substantial fees, you will have to give up any possession of value and your interest in your home. For more information about bankruptcy look on the Insolvency Service website 

Committal to Prison

We may also consider the issue of committal to prison proceedings in the magistrates' court, if other proceedings such as charging orders, bankruptcy or bailiff action fail to collect outstanding charges. You would incur costs of at least £290 and could be sent to prison for up to 3 months.

More information and support

If you are having problems paying your debts you can get free independent advice from a number of national organisations including:

StepChange Debt Charity

Tel: 0800 138 1111

Citizens Advice Bureau

Wakefield District CAB
District Office
27 King Street
West Yorkshire

Tel: 03444 111 444

Fax number: 01924 378066

Email: districtoffice@wakefielddistrictcab.co.uk

National Debtline

Tel: 0808 808 4000


You can register for paperless billing and view details of your Council Tax account online. Go to My Account now to register or sign in.

Contact us

Revenues and Benefits Service

Wakefield Council
Wakefield One
PO Box 700

Phone lines are open between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday
You can also contact us using our Online Customer Enquiry Form

0345 8 504 504