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Council Tax

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will commission research into the incidence of local authorities issuing court summonses for non-payment of council tax in error; and if she will make a statement. (251336)

The Government believe that the regulations governing the enforcement of unpaid council tax are robust enough to keep any errors in the system at a minimum, and provide ample opportunity for citizens to establish that there has been an error. Local authorities are legally required to send the taxpayer at least two reminders about unpaid council tax before seeking a liability order from the court. They are required, in second reminders, to give the taxpayer 14 days within which payment of any outstanding amount must be paid and a warning that the local authority will apply to the magistrates court for a liability order if the debt remains outstanding after 14 days. The person summoned may appear before the court and always has an opportunity to establish that the council tax has been demanded in error. The court is required to satisfy itself that the sum demanded has become payable by the defendant and has not been paid. Commissioning such research would therefore not be a prudent use of public money.