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In Council Tax arrears? Why you need to act now

What would you consider to be the most common debt? If you’re thinking credit cards or mortgages, you are wrong. New research has found unpaid Council Tax is overtaking credit cards as the most common cause of owed money.

Around 13% of people have Council Tax arrears, according to the study by the Debt Advisory Centre. Just over half of those with arrears are behind by two months, and a further 5% have amassed arrears of three months or more.

Who is most likely to have council tax arrears?

Young people aged between 18-24 are most likely to have fallen into arrears with their Council Tax bill. A quarter of under 25s questioned admitted to having fallen behind with Council Tax payments.

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Council Tax arrears have become an increasingly common problem, but failure to pay them can have serious consequences.  You should consider Council Tax arrears to be a priority debt – which have the most serious consequences – such as receiving a court summons or being made bankrupt.  

If you are in arrears, now is a good time to think about it with Council Tax bills for the upcoming year usually issued on or before 30 April.  

Paying your council tax bill – are you struggling?

The Debt Advisory Centre advises contacting your council immediately and agreeing a plan of regular payments that you can afford. If you don’t, and you get into arrears your council may cancel instalment payments and ask for the whole amount to be paid within seven days.

If you do wish to complain about your Council Tax, you must go via your council first and give them 12 weeks to respond – after which you may be able to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Save on your council tax

The amount of council tax you need to pay varies based on your home and where you live.

You could be inadvertently overpaying on your Council Tax by being in the wrong band.

Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland are in the wrong Council Tax bands. Welsh homes were more recently evaluated and are less likely to be in the wrong band, but it is always worth checking. If you have been overpaying for years, you could be entitled to thousands of pounds in refunds.

You can ask for a review from your council to see whether you’ve been overpaying – but be aware you could end up paying more if they find you’ve been in a band which is too low for your property!

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