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Warning issued to tax dodgers
8:20am Monday 23rd January 2012 in News
SWINDON Council is warning tax dodgers they will not escape paying as it is revealed that the authority is successful in recouping unpaid tax through the courts.
If a householder does not pay council tax, councils can ask a magistrates’ court to make a liability order demanding that they pay the full amount owed, plus costs.
Figures, revealed to the Adver under the Freedom of Information Act, show that Swindon has been successful in such prosecutions, recovering £5.2m out of the £7m sought in 2010/11, and £5.9m of the £7.2m summonsed in 2009/10.
Council tax, which helps pay for local services such as policing and rubbish collection, applies to all domestic properties, including houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes and houseboats, whether owned or rented.
Coun Colin Lovell, cabinet member for customer services and a safer and stronger borough, said he was pleased with the prosecution results, pointing out that Swindon was one of the best authorities at collecting council tax.
He said: “We will prosecute these people who insist on not paying it or have no intention, because we all have to pay because we all receive the services.
“It’s only fair on everyone who pays on time that we do chase people who don’t want to pay it. If you’re trying to avoid paying, we will chase you and you will pay. But if you’re in difficulties, come to us because there’s always a way to work these things out.”
If a resident is unable to come to a payment arrangement with the council over unpaid tax or if they make arrangements to pay but don’t, the council can ask the magistrates’ court for a liability order. This allows the council to take enforcement action to recover the debt. This will usually mean either deductions from wages and benefits or the use of bailiffs, although bankruptcy and charging orders are other options.
Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s good to see that Swindon has recouped such a large sum of unpaid council tax, local residents will hope they do even better next year.
“It is unfair on the majority who pay up at the right time that some households refuse to contribute their fair share. While some fixed or low-income individuals may struggle to pay council tax, which has almost doubled in the last decade, there is no excuse for the hard-core who flout the law and simply won’t pay; it is right that the council pursues them through the courts where necessary.”
Anyone who needs help to pay council tax can call Swindon Council’s council tax and benefits helpline on 0345 302 2316.