Council Tax: Account information
Who has to pay Council Tax?
Only people aged 18 or over have to pay Council Tax. Where there is more than one person aged 18 or over resident in your home, the one with the most secure interest in it is responsible for paying Council Tax.
There is only one Council Tax bill for each property. A property is a house, flat, maisonette, or other domestic property that someone can live in.
The person living in the property with the greatest "legal right" to it is responsible for paying the Council Tax bill. Normally this would be the owner who lives there or the tenant.
To work out who is responsible for paying the Council Tax for your home, look down the list below. The list gives ‘categories of residence’ from 1 to 5.
If category ‘1’ applies to someone living in your home, that person is responsible for paying the council tax bill. If category ‘1’ does not apply, continue to look down the list until you come to a category that does apply to someone living in your property. If the category that you have reached applies to two or more people, then both of them or all of them are jointly responsible for paying the Council Tax bill.
Categories of residence
- The owner of the property (who owns the ‘freehold’)
- A person who owns the lease
- A tenant (including a council tenant)
- Someone who has a license to live in the property
- Someone who just lives there
If no adults live in the property as their main home, the owner or leaseholder of the property, is responsible for paying the council tax bill
If the category for your home applies to two or more people, these people are jointly responsible for paying the bill, even if the bill is addressed to only one of them.
For example, joint owners will be jointly responsible. It is important that you identify everyone responsible for paying the bill, because anyone responsible for paying can claim council tax support.
It will be up to the person named on the bill to collect any payments from anyone else living in the property who they consider should contribute towards the tax. If you have received a bill that does not show the names of everyone who is responsible, we can send you a revised bill confirming that they are responsible for paying the council tax.
Just write to us with proof that the other people are also liable, and we will arrange it. Married couples, Civil partners and couples who live together are also jointly responsible for the bill. This applies even if they are in different ‘categories of residence’ or if only one of their names appears on the bill.
- If the owner of the property does not live there, he or she will be responsible for paying the bill if:
- No adults live in the property as their main home; or
- The property is let to more than one household, for example hostels, or buildings containing bedsits with people who share facilities; or
- The property is a residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home; or
- The property is occupied by a religious community or ministers of religion; or if domestic service staff live in the property or
- The property is occupied by asylum seekers
If you are named on the council tax bill but you think that is wrong, please contact the Revenues and Benefits Service. Tell us why you think you are not responsible for paying the council tax, and enclose any proof. We will look into the matter, and write to tell you of our decision. Liability Appeals:
- You can appeal if:
- You think you are not responsible for paying the council tax
- You have claimed a discount or exemption and this has not been awarded or has been refused
- You think any item on your bill apart from council tax benefit has been worked out incorrectly
- A claim for disability reduction has not been granted
- You have to pay a penalty
- If we have sent you a completion notice, and you do not agree with the date on it.
If you want to appeal about these matters, please email us at email@example.com and put "appeal" as well as your account reference in the subject field, or call us on 020 8496 3000 to speak to an advisor.
If you move into or out of Waltham Forest, or if you change homes within Waltham Forest it is important that you let the Council Tax Section know. Complete one of our on-line forms to report your change of address
Important: reporting changes in circumstances
If your circumstances change after you have been granted a discount or exemption, it could affect your entitlement. These changes include, another adult over 18 moving in to your property, a child turning 18 or no longer in full time education. There are other changes that will affect your entitlement to a discount or exemption. If you are unsure please contact us on 020 8496 3000 today to find out more. You must tell us about any changes in circumstances that would affect your discount or exemption, within 21 days. To do this complete our online change in circumstance form
Take control of your Council Tax account on line (self service)
You can manage your Council Tax account on-line using our e-citizen service. The service is free and easy to use. To find our more select self service.
What will happen if I don’t pay my Council Tax or Business Rates?
Instalments for Council Tax and Business rates are due on the first day of each month. If you don’t pay your instalment or your payment arrives after the first day of each month, you will receive a reminder.
If you continually pay late or do not pay at all, you will receive a final notice or court summons. Once you have received either of these, you will lose your
right to pay by instalments, and you will also need to pay the full balance for the year in one payment.
If you would like to pay your council tax or Business rates on a different date in the month, you can set up a direct debit quickly and easily by filling out our online DD form. or you call on 020 8496 3000. Please have your bank sort code and account number with you, and we will do the rest. There are a choice of payment dates when paying by Direct Debit, and paying by this method will stop the need for us to send you reminders, final notices or summonses and adding costs to the amount you owe.
What should I do if I receive a reminder for Council Tax?
If you receive a reminder for Council Tax, you have seven days to bring your instalments up to date. If you do not pay within seven days, you will lose your legal right to pay by instalments. This means that we can send you a summons and you will be charged an additional £120 in costs. You will also need to pay the full balance for the year in one payment.
If you do bring your account up to date but then fail to continue to pay your instalments as requested, we will send you a second reminder. You can only receive two reminders in any one year.
If you fall behind a third time, you will receive a final notice and you will lose your legal right to pay by instalments for the remainder of the year. If you do not pay after receiving these notices, we can issue a summons.
What will happen if I receive a final notice for Council Tax?
If you receive a final notice for Council Tax, you have lost your legal right to pay by instalments. The remaining balance is due in full. If you do not pay the full balance, we will send you a summons and you will be charged an additional £120 in costs.
What will happen if I receive a summons for Council Tax?
If you receive a summons because you have not paid your Council Tax, costs of £120 will be added to your account. At the court hearing, we will ask the Magistrates to issue a Liability Order against you. A Liability Order is the court’s agreement that you are liable to pay Council Tax at the property in question. Your ability to pay is not a matter that the Magistrates will take into account when issuing a Liability Order. The Liability Order gives the Council extra powers to collect the money that you owe.
Do I need to attend court?
You have the right to attend the Magistrates’ Court. The hearing to which you have been summonsed to appear is known as a ‘Bulk Hearing’. This means that the Council has issued a large number of summonses for the same date and time as yours.
All of these will be dealt with at the same time. The court will only hear individual cases if you have a valid defence against the issue of a summons. It is for the courts to decide what is a valid defence.
To help you, we have listed the main defences:
- the property named on your summons is not shown as an entry in the valuation list
- the tax has not been properly set
- the amount has not been demanded in accordance with the statutory provisions
- the amount demanded has been paid in full
- more than six years have elapsed since the day on which the sum became due
- bankruptcy or winding up proceedings have been initiated
In all other cases full payment must be made before the court hearing date. Under certain circumstances we may enter into an arrangement with you to clear the outstanding balance. In all cases the Liability Order along with court costs will remain on your account and be included in any arrangement made. With any arrangement made at this stage, you will be required to pay an initial lump sum, and supply us with the name and address of your employer and your payee number or proof of your self employed status if applicable Please contact Waltham Forest Direct or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this further. If you do not make full payment including the costs, or you do not have a payment arrangement validated by your employer details or self employment status we will recover the debt in one of the following ways:
We will apply to the High Court to have you made bankrupt. This is extremely serious action and will badly affect your ability to get credit for a long period of time. You will also incur substantial additional costs and any properties or other assets you own can be sold to pay your debt. During 2012/13 the Council issued more than 360 bankruptcy demands and made more than 40 people bankrupt to recover council tax debts.
Attachment of Earnings Order
If you are working we will instruct your employer to make deductions from your salary or wages. The amount taken will depend on your net earnings and are set out in regulations.
We will instruct a bailiff company to collect the debt on our behalf. Any payments that you make will then have to be paid direct to the bailiff company. You can be charged additional fees if your account is passed to the bailiff company and some of your personal possessions can be sold at public auction. The money collected from the auction will be used to pay the bailiff fees and the council tax that you owe.
If you own your property, we can apply to the County Court for a Charging Order. Once the Charging Order is registered at the Land Registry Office, the property cannot be sold unless we are paid the debt plus interest and costs out of the net proceeds of the sale. The Charging Order will remain as a caution against the title of the property so long as the debt remains due. The Council may choose to force the sale of your property to pay the outstanding debt
Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance
Please note that if you are in receipt of Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, deductions from your benefit may be applied for or our external agents may be instructed to collect the debt.
If we cannot collect the money that you owe by using one of the methods listed above, we will start committal proceedings against you. This means you will be summoned to attend the Magistrates’ Court and further costs will be added to your account. If the Magistrates think that you have the money to pay but are deliberately not paying, they may decide to send you to prison for up to 90 days.
Council Tax Support
Find out more about council tax support
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- I have moved. what do I need to do?
- My bill shows that I have an amount outstanding for previous years but I am sure that I have paid it
- I can't pay on the first of the month. What can I do?
- How do I set up a Direct Debit to pay my Council tax?
- Can I see my bills online?
- I live in the property on my own; do I have to pay the full Council tax?