Accessibility Statement
Chat icon Chat with us live

Unable to pay your Council Tax


Before contacting us | Contact us | Debt Advice | Non-payment | Reminder notices and Final notice | What happens next? | Court Summons | Liability order | Council Tax and Freeman of the Land

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax but are not yet in arrears please contact us on 0161 342 2015 to discuss the support available. Don't wait for a reminder or other recovery letter.
If you have received a recovery letter and you are unable to pay as the letter requests, please contact the Revenues Service straight away on 0161 342 2045 so we can help.

Council Tax is a priority debt along with rent, mortgage, fuel bills, child maintenance and court fines. You need to prioritise the payment of Council Tax because serious action can be taken if you do not pay.

We can set up arrangements for you to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly and may be able to extend your payments over a longer period.

Before contacting us

Click on the link for the attached budget planner.

List all the money you have coming in. Don't forget to include yours and your partner's take home pay, benefits, income from people who live with you and regular income such as a works pension or maintenance.

Then list where your money goes. Your rent or mortgage are the most important bills followed by fuel and water. Council Tax payments take priority over debts such as credit cards, catalogues and unsecured loans.

From this you will be able to see how much you can offer to pay and it will help us to come to an arrangement with you. You can email the form and supporting evidence to the Revenues team at the email address below quoting your Council Tax reference in the title. You can also take the budget planner and supporting evidence to our Customer Services offices.

Contact us

Revenues Team – for all enquiries regarding a Council Tax Reminder, Final Notice or any Recovery action that is being taken. If you are experiencing severe financial difficulties we can offer an appointment with the Arrears Support Team.

Call: 0161 342 2045
Email :
Contact form: Send the Revenues Team a Message

Debt Advice

Here are other agencies which offer free advice if you are experiencing financial difficulties:

Citizens Advice Bureau
Tel: 0300 330 9076

National Debt line
Tel: 0808 808 4000

Welfare Rights Debt Advice Service
Tel: 0161 342 3494 if you are experiencing rent or mortgage difficulties.

Overview of Council Tax Recovery

There is a legal process we follow if you don’t pay your Council Tax, including reminders, notices and court proceedings.

Debt Recovery Policy

For the Councils full Debt Recovery Policy please click this link


When we sent you your Council Tax bill, we told you how much you had to pay and when. Council Tax bills are issued at the end of February /beginning of March. The bills are not issued monthly; they are issued for the following year. If you do not pay as requested, we will send you a reminder notice. If you are making regular payments, but are paying later than the dates shown on your Council Tax bill, you may receive a reminder notice and ultimately lose your right to pay by instalments because your payments are late.

Reminder notices and Final notice

You must pay the amount shown on the reminder within 7 days; this will bring your account up to date, then you need to pay all your instalments on time in future, or you may lose the right to pay by instalments.
If you bring your instalments up to date but don't pay future instalments on time, then your account may be issued a Final Notice as you have failed to bring the account up to date. This notice informs you that you have lost the right to pay by instalments and payment in full must be made within 14 days. Otherwise a Court Summons will be issued with the intention of obtaining a Liability Order at the Magistrates Court. A Court Summons for non-payment of Council Tax will then be issued and costs of £86.00 will be applied for to cover the costs of the summons and court proceedings.

What happens next?

Once a Court Summons is issued, then Tameside Council will apply to the Magistrate’s Court for a liability order for the full amount of Council Tax including costs (currently £86.00) unless the amount is paid in full before the court hearing date.

If the amount is paid in full, no further action is taken.

Your instalment plan will have already been cancelled by this stage; however under certain circumstances a special arrangement can be made after the Liability Order is granted, including costs.

Court Summons

If you receive a Summons, call us straight away. Most of the time, it’s not necessary to go to court. Over the phone we will try to agree a special payment arrangement, check your entitlement to Council Tax Support and investigate any unresolved query.

You do not need to come to court if you pay the full debt including the costs before the hearing date. 

Likewise, if you feel you have a valid defence against a Liability Order being issued we can also discuss this over the phone without you needing to attend court. You can contact the Revenues Team on 0161 342 2045 to discuss your account.

However, although you do not have to attend a court hearing, the Council will still request that £86.00 costs are awarded against you unless you have paid the account in full.

If you do come to court, you will be interviewed by a member of staff who will;

  • Agree a payment arrangement with you 
  • Take note of any queries you may have about your bill or your payments and advise what to do next

If you choose to go to the court hearing, the Magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted.
The defences that the Magistrates will take into account before deciding to grant a Liability Order are shown below:
  • That you have paid the Council Tax in full
  • The Council has not followed the procedures set down in law when trying to collect your Council Tax including the correct notices issued

The Council only have to prove notices were sent to you. We do not have to prove that you have received them.

If you do not have a valid defence, the Magistrates will grant a Liability Order.

The following are not valid defences:
  • You can't afford to pay
  • You have applied for Council Tax Support, or a discount, exemption or other reduction
  • You have an outstanding appeal with the valuation tribunal.

Liability Order

A Liability Order is granted by the courts to local authorities in order to give them extra power to recover outstanding Council Tax.

A Liability Order allows us to take any of the following action if you do not pay your Council Tax.
  • Issue a notice to pay the total amount you owe, if you don’t pay or contact us within 14 days from the date of this letter, we may take further enforcement action 
  • Demand information about your job or benefits, once a Liability Order is issued you are legally obliged to provide us with details of your finances. If you fail to provide this information you could be prosecuted; resulting in a criminal record and a court fine 
  • Make an arrangement with you 
  • Take money from your wages (by attachment of earnings) View table of the percentage rates used
  • Take money from your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit (by attachment of benefits) 
  • Instruct Enforcement Agents to visit your property and collect full payment, this method incurs further charges of £75.00 plus further enforcement fees if a visit is required. If you receive a letter from an Enforcement Agent you must contact them directly. 
  • Ask for a charging order to be made against your property; or 
  • Make you bankrupt, or in the case of a company put into liquidation; or 
  • Apply for committal proceedings to the Magistrates Court who may consider if a prison sentence is warranted

If you are experiencing severe financial difficulties and want to discuss your debt further with the Revenues Team, you must complete a budget planner with supporting evidence and send to

Council Tax and Freeman of the Land

The Freeman of the Land movement and similar groups, commonly believe that they are bound only by statute laws they consent to.

Being a ‘freeman’ does not exempt any person from paying Council Tax. Council Tax is not optional and not something you consent to. If you are liable to pay Council Tax, you must make your payments.

The liability to pay Council Tax falls under the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. This is a statute created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown.
For more information see: 

Local Government Finance Act 1992 (

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (

Your liability for Council Tax is not dependent on, and does not require, your consent or the existence of a contractual relationship with the Council. There is no legal basis to make an argument against this. Freeman of the land arguments have been considered and ruled against by the courts and anyone who withholds payment, will have recovery action taken against them.

For more information see: ‘Freeman on the Land’ jailed for failure to pay council tax (

On occasion a liable person is convinced that using archaic law/s means they don’t have to pay Council Tax and there are many misleading and factually incorrect articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax. Anyone drawing on these for advice should exercise caution and seek their own independent legal advice before using them as a defence in a Magistrates Court against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.

If you have any concerns regarding the charging of Council Tax, please seek your own independent legal advice, rather than relying on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.

While we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy spurious enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute which use significant resources at the expense of other Council Tax payers. This includes Freeman of the Land letters and notices served on the Council’s Chief Executive or Executive Leader with the same misleading reasoning.

Your Council Tax payments support the funding of vital services delivered by the Council used daily by its residents.