Problems paying

If you have problems paying your council tax, the following procedures and information sections may help.

You could be entitled to a discount or an exemption, please check and apply online.

  • View your account online
    • You can see how your council tax bill has been calculated and your outstanding balance. You can also:

      » check the payments you have made and when any future payments are due
      » set up or amend a direct debit
      » view or print your current and previous bills

      View your account online

      The website is available 24 hours a day and it is updated regularly, so you can see up to date information and check the progress of changes you have told us about. You will need to register but you will only need to do this once. 

  • Change the way you pay your instalments

    Annual council tax bills in Bolton are usually issued in March to be paid by 10 monthly instalments from April to January. However, you can ask for your instalments to be spread over 12 months from April to March.

    You can also:

    » choose to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly
    » pay by direct debit, standing order, cash, cheque, debit or credit card

    If you wish to change how you pay your council tax, complete the online form.

    Change the way you pay 

  • Click below for further information about recovery procedures...

    Reminder notice
    • We will send you a reminder notice around two to three weeks after the payment was due. If you have received a reminder, you can still contact us to make an arrangement to pay

      If you do not bring your payments up to date or contact us to make an arrangement, you will have to pay the full amount for the year immediately.

  • Final notice
  • Summons

    Why have I received a summons?

    The summons has been issued because you have not paid the amounts due in accordance with the bills and notices that have been sent to you or your payments have been received late.

    Where two or more people are responsible for paying the charge a court summons will be sent to each person named on the account.

    If the amount due on the summons, including the costs of £81.50, is not paid in full before the hearing date, an application will be made for a liability order. This gives the council statutory powers to enforce payment of the debt.

    These powers include:

    » requesting income details
    » taking money directly from your earnings
    » taking money directly from your benefit 
    » sending your case to enforcement agents (bailiffs) 
    » applying for a charging order on your property, which gives the council the option to force its sale
    » applying to make you bankrupt
    » applying to the magistrates for your committal to prison 

    What if I can pay in full?

    If you pay in full before the hearing date, no further action is required.

    What if I cannot pay in full?

    On the summons there will be an arrangement for you to pay the balance of the summons over the rest of the financial year.

    If you are able to make the payments as requested then you do not need to contact us.

    If you need to make an alternative arrangement for example, change the payment method, date, frequency or amounts, contact us before the hearing date.

    Any arrangement entered into will be based on the liability order being obtained and enforcement action being suspended whilst the agreed payments are being made. 

    What if I have a pending claim for benefit, a discount or rateable value adjustment?

    The magistrates are required by law to grant a liability order. The fact there is an application pending is not considered to be a valid defence.

    Do I have any defence against the issue of a liability order?

    There are only two valid defences

    » you are not the person who should be liable, or
    » your instalments have been received by the due dates

    Late payment of instalments and payments received after the expiry of a reminder notice is not a valid defence.

    Applications for help with your council tax, discounts, exemptions or appeals against charges will not stop proceedings.

    If you believe you have a valid defence, you should contact us immediately. The council will withdraw the application if you have a valid defence.

    Do I need to attend the court hearing?

    No. There is no requirement that you attend the hearing unless you have a valid defence. The magistrates cannot make a decision on how the debt is to be paid. By law, they can only decide whether a liability order should be granted or not. If there is no valid defence they should grant the order.

    Please note the council has no facilities at the court to be able to deal with account queries. You should contact us before the hearing to resolve any outstanding issues or discuss payment.

  • Liability order

    If you have not already made an arrangement with us, we will send you a letter telling you a liability order has been made. On the reverse of the letter is a form requesting details of your income and that of your partner. It is an offence not to complete and return the form and you may be fined by the magistrates for failing to do so.

    At this stage you can still contact us to make an arrangement to pay. 

    When a liability order has been granted it allows the council to take more action to collect the money that is owed. This action includes:

    » requesting income details
    » taking money directly from your earnings
    » taking money directly from your benefit 
    » sending your case to enforcement agents 
    » applying for a charging order on your property, which gives the council the option to force its sale
    » applying to make you bankrupt
    » applying to the magistrates for your committal to prison

  • Attachment of earnings

    If you are in employment, we can ask your employer to deduct a certain amount of money each month. The exact amount will be in accordance with a scale of deductions set by the government. The more you earn, the higher the deduction. Your employer can also deduct a charge covering their administrative costs in making the deductions.

    For further details see our Attachment of earnings guide.

  • Deductions from benefits

    If you are in receipt of benefits we may be able to ask the Department of Work and Pensions to make a deduction from each payment they make to you. The exact amount will depend on figures set by the government.

    The benefits we may be able to make deductions from are:

    » Income support
    » Job seekers allowance (income based)
    » Employment and support allowance (income related)
    » Universal credit
    » Pension credit (guaranteed credit) 

  • Enforcement agents (bailiffs)

    If all other attempts to reach a payment arrangement fail then the debt will be passed to our enforcement agents to collect. Any action taken on our behalf is controlled by our code of conduct.

    Enforcement agents can take goods from your home to clear the arrears and will charge extra costs for their services

    » Compliance stage - £75.00
    This fee covers activity from the receipt of the case. It includes the issue of a notice of enforcement, dealing with any contact from the person(s) who owe the debt and any processing of correspondence or payments

    » Enforcement - £235 (Additional fee of 7.5% of any amount over £1500)
    First attendance by the enforcement agent to the person’s premises or doorstep. The fee includes all the work carried out at this stage so there are no additional visit charges

    » Removal / disposal of goods - £110 (Additional fee of 7.5% of any amount over £1500)
    This covers activity from the first attendance at the property to remove the goods to a place of sale.

    If the enforcement officers are unsuccessful we can apply to the magistrates' court to commence committal proceedings. This will incur additional costs of:-

    Committal summons - £245.00
    Warrant with bail - £75.00
    Warrant without bail - £75.00

  • Bankruptcy

    If you owe council tax, we may decide to take bankruptcy action against you.

    The consequences of bankruptcy can be severe.

    »Your credit rating will be affected
    »Your assets will be seized
    »You could lose your home

    Any costs incurred by the council for making you bankrupt or by the administrator of your bankruptcy will be added to your debt and recovered from any monies or assets identified by the administrator.

    If we do decide to take bankruptcy action against you, we will write to you first giving details of your debts and explaining how bankruptcy will affect you. If you receive a letter about bankruptcy from us, contact us to make an arrangement to pay. 

    For more detailed information about bankruptcy, visit the Insolvency Service website

  • Charging orders

    If you owe council tax, we may decide to place a charging order on your property.

    If we decide to do this, we will first write to you giving details of your debt and explaining how a charging order would affect you. 

    At this stage you can still contact us to make an arrangement to pay. 

    If you do not make an arrangement to pay the debt we will apply for the charging order and ask the court to include our legal costs.

    Once we have obtained the charging order, if you still do not pay the charge including the costs, then we can use that charging order to take possession of your property to sell it or obtain the proceeds of any future sale.

  • Committal to prison

    If the enforcement agent is unable to recover the debt, and another way of recovering the debt is not appropriate, we will make an application to the magistrates' court for your commitment to prison.

    If you have been issued with a committal summons the following information tells you what happens next:

    How can I stop the committal proceedings?

    By paying in full before the hearing date. 

    What if I can't pay in full?

    We will be happy to make an arrangement with you any time before the committal hearing. Please contact us to discuss making an arrangement as soon as possible. 

    The Citizens Advice Bureau also provides a free, impartial debt counselling service.

    What happens if I make an arrangement to pay before the hearing?

    You will not need to attend the hearing. The case will be adjourned and your payments will be monitored. No further action will be taken provided you make payment as agreed.

    Do I need to attend court for a committal summons hearing?

    You will only need to attend court if you have not paid in full or made an arrangement to pay.

    What happens if I don't pay, make an arrangement or attend court?

    If you are summonsed to appear at court and you do not pay in full, make an arrangement with us or attend the hearing, we can ask the magistrates to issue a warrant for your arrest.

    The commencement of committal proceedings can result in additional costs being incurred and the magistrates can send you to prison for a period up to 3 months.

  • Discretionary reductions to council tax
    • Extra help with your council tax may be available if:

      » You are affected by the changes made to council tax discounts and
      exemptions for unoccupied properties introduced from April 2013 onwards, or

      » Your council tax support does not meet your full council tax liability

    • The scheme is purely discretionary; there is no statutory right to a reduction in council tax. However, if you disagree with our decision, you (or someone else representing you) may request a review. This should be submitted in writing within one calendar month of the original decision. A different officer will look at the original decision and the additional evidence supplied.

    • Discretionary help with empty property charges

      This only applies if you have been affected by the changes made to council tax discounts and exemptions from April 2013 onwards. You must show you need additional financial help.

      Apply for help with empty property charges   

    • Discretionary help with council tax for the property you live in

      If you need extra help to pay your council tax, you can make a claim for a discretionary council tax reduction. You must show you need additional financial help.  

      Apply for help with your council tax

  • Debt advice

    If you are having financial difficulties you can get free advice about budgeting and any debts you may have from: .

    Bolton's Money Skills Service, One Stop Shop, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU

    Tel : 01204 332916

    Bolton Citizen's Advice Bureau at 26-28 Mawdsley Street, Bolton BL1 1LF

    Tel: 03444 111 444

    National Debt line

    Freephone: 0808 808 4000

    Step Change Debt Charity

    Freephone: 0800 138 1111

    Council Tax

    Po Box 32


    BL1 1UT

    Telephone 01204 331599
    View map

    Opening times

    Times are displayed in a 24 hour format.

    Open Close

    Upcoming activities

    Upcoming events