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If you don't pay

When we sent your council tax bill we told you how much you had to pay and when. If you don't pay as requested, we will take action to recover the amount outstanding.

Reminders

Please see our reminder flow chart 

IMPORTANT:  The next step will cost you more money.

You receive a court summons

The magistrate's court will issue a summons if:

  • you don't pay anything
  • you have failed to keep your instalments up to date
  • pay some but not the entire bill

If you get a summons, you will be charged costs.

It's always best to contact us if you can't pay your bill on time. Please call us 01902 551166 or email council.tax@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Liability order

A liability order is granted by the court and gives the council legal powers to recover council tax.

This includes instructing:

  • your employer to take money direct from your pay
  • the Department for Work and Pensions to take money direct from your benefits or pension credit
  • enforcement agents to collect the debt. This will cost you more money, you could lose your belongings which are sold to pay your debt (see below for further information on enforcement agents).

We can also consider:

  • Bankruptcy proceedings
  • Putting a charging order on your property if you own your home and enforce a sale
  • Applying to Magistrates' Court for a warrant to send you to prison.

If you are unable to pay your council tax, you should contact us immediately. The earlier you contact us, the less likely it is that you will have to pay extra costs. Contact us on 01902 551166.

Enforcement Agent (Bailiff)

A liability order has been issued by the Magistrates' Court and we have passed your details to accredited enforcement agents to collect the amount you owe, plus any extra charges (see below).

The enforcement agent must:

  • carry official identification at all times
  • carry written authorisation to act on behalf of the council
  • produce the above items if asked to identify themselves
  • issue an official receipt for payments.

If you receive a letter or a visit from an enforcement agent, you should contact them urgently to discuss your options for repayment as additional enforcement agents' fees will be added (see below).

If your account is with an enforcement agent you must make payments direct to them.

The enforcement agents currently used by the Council are:

Any enforcement agency acting on our behalf will behave professionally; follow set procedures; have an internal complaints procedure and not take inappropriate action.

Stage

Charge

Percentage fees if debt is greater than £1,500, in addition to Charge

Compliance
This fee is added to your debt when your account is referred to an enforcement agent for collection.

£75

0%

Enforcement
If you do not arrange to pay the enforcement agent, or arrange to make payment and then do not pay as agreed, the enforcement agent will visit you and this fee will also be added to your debt.

£235

7.5%

Sale
If you do not sign a Controlled Goods Agreement when an enforcement agent visits your property, or you do not pay as agreed after signing a Controlled Goods Agreement, the enforcement agent can remove and sell your goods and you will be charged this fee.

£110

7.5%

When an enforcement agent visits, you will have to pay a further fixed fee of £235 plus 7.5% for any debt due that is over £1500. Even if you pay in full at this stage, you will still have to pay all of the costs.

If you are unable to pay in full, the enforcement agent can make the decision to take control of your goods. The enforcement agent may enter into a Controlled Goods Agreement, where the agent makes a list of your possessions that is equal in value to your debt. This means that you cannot dispose or sell them without the enforcement agents' permission. These will then be sold at public auction.

Obstructing an enforcement agent or interfering with controlled goods is now an offence for which you can be arrested and sent to prison.

Bailiffs can take luxury items, for example a TV or games console.

They can't take items such as:

  • goods on hire purchase
  • goods which are rented
  • items necessary for use in connection with your employment or education - 'tools of the trade' if their value is less than £1350
  • household necessities for the family, such as:
  • beds and bedding
  • children's toys
  • children's equipment
  • cooker and cooking utensils
  • food
  • medical equipment
  • table and chairs
  • some lighting or heating appliances
  • refrigerator
  • ironing equipment
  • a vehicle used for carry a disabled person which is displaying a valid disabled person's badge.

Visit GOV.UK for more information about enforcement agent powers and removal of goods.

Attachment of Earnings: what it is and how it works

Why have I received an Attachment of Earnings order?

The council has issued an attachment of earnings order because you have not paid your council tax by the date shown on your bill and the Magistrates Court have granted a Liability Order against you.

This allows the council to issue an attachment of earnings order because an arrangement for payment has not been made or maintained as agreed. For more information please see the regulation.

What is an Attachment of Earnings order?

It is a legal document that is sent to your employer which requires them to take money from your wage to pay your outstanding Council Tax arrears. Your employer can also take an extra £1 for each deduction for their administration costs.

We can send a maximum of 2 orders at any one time and you will be issued with a copy of each order. Please view our pdf icon Guide for employees [267kb] for more information.

When will deductions start?

We ask your employer to start making deductions as soon as possible. You will need to ask them when this will be if you are unsure.

How much will be taken from my wage?

The amount deducted is calculated based on a percentage of your net pay as detailed in the tables below.

Weekly pay

Net weekly earningsWeekly deductionsDeduction rate
Not exceeding £75Nil0%
Exceeding £75 but not exceeding £135 £2.25 to £4.053%
Exceeding £135 but not exceeding £185 £6.75 to £9.25 5%
Exceeding £185 but not exceeding £225 £12.95 to £15.75 7%
Exceeding £225 but not exceeding £355 £27.00 to £42.60 12%
Exceeding £355 but not exceeding £505 £60.35 to £85.85 17%
Exceeding £505 Minimum £85.85 17% in respect of the first £505 and 50% of the remainder 

Monthly pay

Net monthly earningsMonthly deductionsDeduction rate
Not exceeding £300Nil0%
Exceeding £300 but not exceeding £550 £9.00 to £16.50 3%
Exceeding £550 but not exceeding £740 £27.50 to £37.00 5%
Exceeding £740 but not exceeding £900 £51.80 to £63.00 7%
Exceeding £900 but not exceeding £1,420 £108.00 to £170.40 12%
Exceeding £1,420 but not exceeding £2,020 £241.40 to £343.40 17%
Exceeding £2,020Minimum £343.40 17% in respect of the first £2,020 and 50% of the remainder 

Will any overtime I work be included?

Yes. The deduction is worked out using your net earnings. If you work extra hours and your pay increases, the amount deducted will also increase.

Will deductions be made if I am on sick pay?

Yes. The deduction is worked out using your net wage. If your earnings reduce the amount deducted will also reduce. If you know that your earnings are too low to make deductions, you must contact us as detailed below immediately. If you do not contact us we will recover the money in another way.

How will I know how much is left to pay?

Your employer will keep a record of how much is left to clear your bill and should stop making deductions once the amount is paid in full. Your wage slip should also tell you how much has been taken for the attachment of earnings order. Remember that your employer can take an extra £1 for each deduction for their administration costs. We recommend that you keep wage slips as your record of the amount paid. If you need more information about the balance left to pay, please speak to your employer.

Can I tell my employer not to make deductions?

No. An attachment of earnings order is a legal document. Your employer must make deductions, or they could be prosecuted.

Can I make an alternative arrangement to pay so that my employer does not have to make deductions?

No. Once an order has been sent it will not be stopped unless you pay the outstanding amount in full or the deductions we receive are insufficient. We will not arrange alternative payment with you at this stage. If you pay the amount in full you must contact us so that we can arrange for the order to be stopped.

What if I change jobs or stop work?

If you change jobs, you must tell us of your new employment details. If you are no longer working, you must contact us to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to some benefit to help you pay your bill. You will also be able to discuss payment of the outstanding amount and stop any further recovery action.

What if I do not agree that I owe the money?

If you think the amount on the order is wrong, or that the order should not have been sent, you should contact the council immediately

I am an employer who has received an order for an employee; can I get further advice?

Her Majesty's Court Services has produced a guide that covers all the points that an employer may raise regarding any Attachment Order. Please view our pdf icon Local guide for employers [357kb] for further information. If you still need further help, please contact council.tax@wolverhampton.gov.uk

I am an employer who has received two orders for an employee; is this right?

A change to the regulations on 1 October 1998 (Regulation 32 & 37 to 42 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 confirmed that two Orders can be placed with the debtor's employer at the same time. In order for payments to be allocated correctly against each Order, please ensure that you either issue separate payments for each Order or if you wish to send bulk payments through, a breakdown of the deductions. Please refer to page 4 of the pdf icon Guide for employers [357kb] for more information.

Can my employer make deductions from redundancy payments?

No.

Can my employer deduct payments from statutory maternity pay?

No, but your employer can make deductions from contractual maternity pay.