Council Tax Advice

Council tax is a tax on domestic properties that generally has to be paid by anyone over 18 who rents or owns a home. You do not have to pay council tax if you are in full-time education, a live-in carer or if you suffer from a severe mental impairment.

What happens if you miss Council Tax payments?

Council Tax is generally paid over 10 monthly instalments to your local council. If a payment is missed at any point you will receive a reminder by post giving you seven days to pay what you owe.

If you do not make your payment within seven days you may be liable to pay your remaining council tax for the rest of the financial year in one instalment.

If you make the payment within seven days but miss a payment later on in the year you will receive a letter informing you that should you miss a third payment you may be liable to pay your remaining council tax for the rest of the financial year in one instalment.

If you lose your right to pay your council tax in instalments you will receive a final notice informing that you have 14 days to pay the entirety of your outstanding council tax for rest of the financial year. Some councils will negotiate with debtors on a case-by-case level, but this is not guaranteed.

Summary Warrants

It is at this point where if you fail to pay your council tax debt that the council can apply to the sheriff court for a summary warrant. The council has no obligation to tell you that they are applying for a summary warrant and you will not be able to defend yourself in court. Summary warrants are granted automatically and you will be informed by post.

Once a summary warrant has been granted by the court it will be sent to you by a sheriff’s office. You will now be responsible for paying any outstanding debt to the sheriff’s office, rather than your local council. The summary warrant will detail how much you owe and who you will have to make payments to. On top of your outstanding council tax debt, a 10% automatic penalty fee will be added.

If you are on benefits or a form of income support, such as jobseeker’s allowance, Sheriff Officers can attempt to take money directly from these payments.

This sounds like a harsh penalty - but don’t worry, there are ways of stopping or lifting wage arrestments if you act fast and seek expert help.

What should I do if I receive a Summary Warrant?

Summary Warrants are a way of ensuring your debts are paid, so if you act fast and seek expert help in order to set up an affordable payment plan, you may be able to prevent your wages from being arrested.

There are several formal debt solutions available to Scottish residents that will revoke your creditor’s right to arrest your wages, such as Trust Deeds and Debt Arrangement Schemes (DAS). Talk to a debt advice service to find out which debt solution is most suited to your current situation.

If you still cannot pay your debts, there is a chance that Sheriff Officers will obtain a court order to repossess your possessions. Sheriffs are limited in what they can take, but if they have a court order there is nothing you can do to prevent the seizure of your possessions without paying your debts. It is always best to try and find the right debt solution for you before allowing the situation to escalate to this stage.