Finally got to the bottom of the council tax scandals.
Over the past few years i have battled my local council tooth and nail to figure out how and why they do what they do.
First lets see what they actually do.
Not only my local council are guilty of this but many are across the entire of the UK. The problem is managing those that fail to pay their council tax but do they really fail to pay the tax or could their be more to it?
If you guessed that their was more to it then you are correct. Most people especially in the current economic climate are struggling to pay bills not alone council tax. It is therefore inevitable that they may fall behind with payments to be made.
Council tax is charged all in one go at the start of the year(1st April of each year) there is no payment plan as such and does require the notified person to pay the amount within 14 days all in one go. We all know or at least should do that everyone does not get paid at the start of the year before you actually do the work so the local council allow this pay in full within 14 days to be broken up into installments every month. This now means that missing a monthly payment regardless of the amount already paid means they automatically push to enforce the fallen behind payment.
In reality although it is 14 days it is actually over 30 days in most cases before they actually let you know about it in the form of a summons. No warning letter, No polite notice to bring the account up to date, no nothing until a summons is issued and this is where the problem begins. Before we talk about the problem lets make clear what exactly is going on here.
The amount due in full is broken up over 10 months, this then equals 10 payments one of which may not be of an equal amount to all the other 9 payments as to quickly resolve any pence in the figures making the other 9 a square rounded off figure. Now the rules are that failing to pay one installment defaults the payment to have to be paid in full without compromise, discussion or leniency what so ever. Put simply pay it all right now or you will go to court and we will bash your door down steal goods to the value of…
Yes it really is that evil, talk about medieval england under the rule of the Normans. Did they ever leave?
So ok this is all clear, so now you pay all ASAP as to stop them from pillaging your house and family. Ironically this tax is to pay for the police force put in place to protect you and your family from people pillaging you, how messed up is that.
Now for the problem:
When you fall behind on a payment the council issue a summons and place a summons cost onto the account for the tax. This can be a range of prices depending on the local authorities cost to the local court.
Now the local authority give you around 28 days to come up with the money to pay the tax otherwise you will have to explain why you did not do so to a magistrate under oath. I advise anyone to make sure you explain to a magistrate under oath as simply you will be robbed of the summons costs.
The summons costs are only liable when a magistrate or the Clerk of the justice has actually given it consideration. Every month thousands of summons are issued and would take the Clerk longer than a month to look at every single individual one of these cases so they are pushed through in a big thick file of paper regardless as to what exactly are the circumstances on each page. By appearing in the court on the day said you actually force the Clerk to pull out that paper and place it in front of the Magistrate to read. That is just by turning up, see how important it is just turning up. Your presence in the court makes that much of an impact, remember that.
Now you are in front of the magistrate, he can now make or break the summons cost on the letter. You see if you have been paying your council tax you have proof that you are paying so appearing before the court to explain why you are not paying is just silly. This makes the council enforcement officer look silly when you point out the obvious and yes you need to point out the obvious. Do not be fooled by insulting the intelligence of the magistrate because the only time the Magistrate knew about your case is at that moment.
Now to prove liability the council enforcement officer must prove without a doubt you are not paying your council tax, contrary to belief a missed month of installment does not qualify this. The next few words must be chosen carefully to show the Magistrate you have been paying and will pay.
The trick in your hat needs to be, I can not pay my council tax in full because their has been a summons cost applied to it which i disagree with. Remove the summons and the tax will be paid. this could be your choice of words which will inevitably end up with the cost removed and you would have to resolve the amount within the next 30 days.
Furthermore you could choose to play the card of ‘Dereliction of duty’, as mentioned above for the summons costs to be enforceable the Clerk must have put his eyes on it and given it some thought prior to it becoming a liable cost. Remember that the first time the Clerk has seen this has been when you arrived in court before the Magistrate so now is the time and only now can the summons cost be liable. Never be fooled by the ‘Admin costs of the council’ this is just plain rubbish as clearly the council correspondence breakdown letter states ‘summons costs’ NOT ‘admin costs’. Summons costs are costs to the court for the summons and are not admin costs of the council, you will find the council stopped many years ago charging admin costs.
Dereliction of duty means that the Clerk authorized the summons as liable prior to doing his job, looking at the summons prior to issue and giving it some thought as to “should it be or not to be” it is that simple. The argument of “We have thousands of summons to look through so we can not look at every single one” is a cop-out. The legislation in law states they must look and place their thought on each individual summons to verify its liability. After all it is a liability order so by not doing so equates to a dereliction of duty. As mentioned above they get around this by you appearing before the court, the local council know that you maybe working, preoccupied or possibly unable to attend for whatever reason, maybe you are disabled or just scared to walk through the front doors of the court. I am sure now you can see how important it is to overcome these fears and or obstacles and get into that court, stand up and be counted, be heard above the big file of never looked at papers.
I guess the Magistrate looks at it as ‘if you don’t turn up to fight the case then you must clearly be guilty’ this rings true with other criminal cases too so it is only logical that this would happen in your absence.
There is another case that can occur in this situation. One which makes this whole already a big problem even bigger.
Oh the fun of the true actions by the local council regarding this one(maladministration) it is such a long word it should carry a longer penalty with it too. The evil tax-man would really think twice before he/she would even contemplate doing what they do.
Anyway maladministration in this situation is where the council knowingly force the liability of the summons cost before it has been placed before the Clerk or the Magistrate. In effect they just issue it like a pizza takeaway flier and yes that is exactly what they do.
Lets say you owe £500.00 council tax and had 5 payments @ £100.00. So you missed the last payment of £100.00 due to some error or unfortunate event. You would think the right thing would be pay the £100.00 in full within the next 30 days to avoid court action but you would be wrong.
The local authority would issue a summons automatically adding a further summons cost, for the sake of demonstration let us say the summons cost is £70.00 so now you are told you owe £170.00 to be paid in full before the 30 days. Remember the summons has not yet been seen by the court, they have no idea of this summons or about you.
You can either pay it or appear in court…
What about(note this is not legal advise under any circumstances) you paid the £100.00 you actually do owe well in advance of the court hearing?
Now you technically have paid your council tax in full so the summons cost would be null and void… Not so, the local council will now pursue the court case for the summons cost that you are not liable for until the court case because you clearly did not fail to pay your council tax, clearly you did only but leaving the £70.00 summons cost they are now collecting illegally because remember the summons cost only becomes liable after the Clerk of the justice or Magistrate has given it their thought. This has been proven countless times in many cases. This is maladministration on the local councils part, it is illegal but no matter how many times people raise the case they just keep doing the same thing over and over again.
So my good readers, analyze this information learn it stand up and fight it. The more people stand up against this terrible illegal actions by our local council then the better the chance will be to put a stop to it.
I have some further snippets of previous situations taken from an article in the telegraph in 2011. Regardless of the media coverage the local council seem unfazed by any of their actions past and present.
- Chief Justice Lord Widgery stated in the case between “Regina v. Brentford Justices, Ex parte Catlin” that:
“before a summons or warrant is issued the information must be laid before a magistrate and he/she must go through the judicial exercise of deciding whether a summons or warrant ought to be issued or not. If a magistrate authorizes the issue of a summons without having applied his mind to the information then he is guilty of dereliction of duty and if in any particular justices’ clerk’s office a practice goes on of summonses being issued without information being laid before the magistrate at all, then a very serious instance of maladministration arises which should have the attention of the authorities without delay.”
Regulation 34 of the Council TAX legislation:
34.–(5) If, after a summons has been issued in accordance with paragraph (2) but before the application is heard, there is paid or tendered to the authority an amount equal to the aggregate of—
(a) the sum specified in the summons as the sum outstanding or so much of it as remains outstanding (as the case may be); and
(b) a sum of an amount equal to the costs reasonably incurred by the authority in connection with the application up to the time of the payment or tender,
the authority shall accept the amount and the application shall not be proceeded with.
(6) The court shall make the order if it is satisfied that the sum has become payable by the defendant and has not been paid.
(7) An order made pursuant to paragraph (6) shall be made in respect of an amount equal to the aggregate of—
(a) the sum payable, and
(b) a sum of an amount equal to the costs reasonably incurred by the applicant in obtaining the order.
It states in Regulations R34(5)(b) and (7)(b), that the costs should be reasonably incurred by the authority.
Here is the telegraph article: