Council tax: Do we have to pay council tax? What happens if you don’t pay?

Council tax serves as fuel for local Government in the UK, which depends on contributions from residents to run a selection of services. Payments may come as a nuisance for millions of people every month, however, with some forking out £100 or more to live in one area. The amount may persuade some people to hold off on forking out the cash, but refusing to do so can come with dire consequences.

Do we have to pay council tax?

Council tax is a compulsory requirement for people living in the UK – but not for everyone.

Currently, the Government asks any adult over the age of 18 who either owns or rents a property to pay up.

Councils base a full bill on at least two adults living in a home and hold spouses or partners equally responsible for payments.


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Some people will qualify for a 25 percent discount, but only if they live alone or are the only adult in their home.

Non-adults not living with any other adults will receive a 50 percent discount.

The only adults able to secure a 100 percent discount are students, whose status exempts them.

The Government has laid out the people who don’t count as adults on their website.

They state the following people are not adults in the eyes of councils:

  • Children under 18
  • People on some apprentice schemes
  • 18 and 19-year-olds in full-time education
  • Full-time college and university students
  • Young people under 25 who get funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency
  • Student nurses
  • Foreign language assistants registered with the British Council
  • People with a severe mental impairment
  • Live-in carers who look after someone who is not their partner, spouse, or child under 18
  • Diplomats

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What happens if you don’t pay council tax?

Council tax is known as a “priority bill” one of the most vital types which can incur severe penalties for failure to comply.

Councils will often provide some leniency with payments at first, however, as no evidence of one within two weeks of the agreed date warrants only a reminder.

People who make the payment within seven days of the reminder can continue as usual, but after then is when people may land in deep water.

Failure to comply with the reminder one week after it arrives may result in a council requesting the full amount for the rest of the year.

Depending on the date, council, and situation, this could cost some people more than £1,200.

If people also fail to do this within another week, the council may accelerate proceedings and take people to court.

The outcome of a court visit will depend on whether people live in England, Scotland or Wales, but could result in a visit from bailiffs or money taken straight from a paycheque.

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