East Devon District Council

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Guide What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax?

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11. Prison

We may take this step if other means of recovery have been unsuccessful.

In these circumstances, we will issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing at the magistrates' court where we will ask the magistrates to send you to prison.

The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

Before issuing a committal warrant, the magistrates must hold a means enquiry with you present. They will only issue a warrant if they are satisfied that your failure to pay is the result of 'wilful refusal' or 'culpable neglect'. This means that you have deliberately refused to pay the debt or have ignored your responsibility to take the necessary steps to pay it.

The magistrates may decide to fix a term of imprisonment and postpone the warrant on certain conditions, normally relating to the payment of the debt over a period of time. The magistrates also have the power to remit (set aside) all, or part, of the debt when no warrant is issued or term of imprisonment fixed.