Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Quash the Liability Order. Suspend Enforcement. Disputing Liabilities. Claim Damages for Misuse of Enforcement Power.
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ajp354
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#1 Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by ajp354 » 12 Jun 2017 17:21

Good Afternoon.

I have tried my best to research this forum, in fact some of the action I have taken has been because of advice on these pages, so thank you. My basic question is I suppose..... I have been sent a 'further notice of enforcement' letter from a Bailiff company out of the blue, is there anything I can do? I would like to add that I do not dispute I owe CT and have absolutely no intention of trying to 'get out of paying CT due'. I just genuinely didn't know I was liable as I had no idea the of the rule changes regarding empty properties.

Sorry for the long first post, but here is a (almost) brief summary of events so far:
My wife and I have owned a second property which when we moved out, we let it using a Management Company. The house is 70 miles away from where we live and we moved out in 2009; it was let straight away. We moved (I was in the forces) to an address then subsequently moved again in Oct 2011 to the house we live in now. Luckily in all that time the let property has only been empty for 2 short periods, once in 2012 for 4 months and then from June 2016 until we sold it in Nov 16. I am sure, but cannot prove, that I informed Leeds City Council of our change of address in 2011 and again in 2012 when there was no liability for CT on the empty property.
Fast forward to now, we have been blissfully unaware that we were liable for council tax, reason being that while in there Forces property CT was taken from my wages at source and now we have a DD set up for CT on our residential property (different council). To be honest as far as we were aware we had no CT liability for when the rental property was empty (of course we now know it's not true). In the meantime the council have been writing to my (very) old address, they have sent a bill, a reminder, a summons, then a copy of a liability order; all of which I have never seen. The council have then instructed a bailiff company to recover the debt and at some point they have completed a trace, which has resulted in me receiving a 'further letter of enforcement. The amount shown on this is £844, there was no breakdown of fees incurred on this letter, although there is what looks like a standard blurb indicating fees that may be payable in a box at the foot of the letter.
I contacted the council, who steadfastly stuck to the 'sort it with the bailiff' mantra, spoke to the enforcement agency who stuck by the 'give me my money mantra.
Now, I was horrified to find that I was a tax dodger! I'm well into my forties and apart from a minor indiscretion with car finance when I was 19 have never defaulted on anything and have always paid my dues.
In the meantime I have completed a statutory declaration stating that I was unaware of proceedings against me and sent it to the court (which has not been acknowledged and still no signature on the Royal Mail special delivery website). Concurrently persuaded the council to 'hold off the enforcement' for 4 weeks while I submit an appeal. And have emailed the enforcement agency informing them that I have submitted a statutory declaration IAW 37.16 of the Magistrates' Courts Act. And at the same time asked for an exact breakdown of the debt IAW Reg 7(e) of the Taking Control of Goods Act (I hope thats right).

So that's where I am. I want (ok not want but know it's my responsibility) to pay the tax I owe and have/had no intention of ever not doing so. The only reason it's not been paid can only be put down to ignorance of the rules; which I know is no real defence in law. But I do find enforcement a) scary, particularly as I work away a lot and am concerned for my wife back in the house who might get a visit. b) the amount extra I have to pay ridiculous due to an honest mistake. I'm not trying to abrogate my responsibilities.

Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you to those who stuck this paragraph to the end.

Al

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#2 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by Schedule 12 » 13 Jun 2017 09:45

ajp354 wrote:
12 Jun 2017 17:21
Good Afternoon.

I have tried my best to research this forum, in fact some of the action I have taken has been because of advice on these pages, so thank you. My basic question is I suppose..... I have been sent a 'further notice of enforcement' letter from a Bailiff company out of the blue, is there anything I can do? I would like to add that I do not dispute I owe CT and have absolutely no intention of trying to 'get out of paying CT due'. I just genuinely didn't know I was liable as I had no idea the of the rule changes regarding empty properties.
Empty properties?

Anyway: This applies: http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/co ... rning.html




Sorry for the long first post, but here is a (almost) brief summary of events so far:
My wife and I have owned a second property which when we moved out, we let it using a Management Company. The house is 70 miles away from where we live and we moved out in 2009; it was let straight away. We moved (I was in the forces) to an address then subsequently moved again in Oct 2011 to the house we live in now. Luckily in all that time the let property has only been empty for 2 short periods, once in 2012 for 4 months and then from June 2016 until we sold it in Nov 16. I am sure, but cannot prove, that I informed Leeds City Council of our change of address in 2011 and again in 2012 when there was no liability for CT on the empty property.
You only need to write to the council and tell them the dates the property was occupied or not occupied and they will send a revised bill.


Fast forward to now, we have been blissfully unaware that we were liable for council tax, reason being that while in there Forces property CT was taken from my wages at source and now we have a DD set up for CT on our residential property (different council). To be honest as far as we were aware we had no CT liability for when the rental property was empty (of course we now know it's not true). In the meantime the council have been writing to my (very) old address, they have sent a bill, a reminder, a summons, then a copy of a liability order; all of which I have never seen.

They count for nothing because they were wrongly addressed. Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 decides the correspondence was not received. This invaliding them and everything that follows. It doesn't invalidate the original liability.



The council have then instructed a bailiff company to recover the debt and at some point they have completed a trace,
That is an enforcement fail: Paragraph 12 of the Taking Control of Goods National Standards 2014. The bailiff must notify the council of the address is gone away. Bailiffs cannot turn up at a new address and ambush you.

http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/TC ... tion6.html




which has resulted in me receiving a 'further letter of enforcement.
You can ask the council to stop all non-compliant enforcement.



The amount shown on this is £844, there was no breakdown of fees
There are no fees because the bailiff cheated and did not use the schedule 12 enforcement procedure. He traced you.#


Regulation 3 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.


incurred on this letter, although there is what looks like a standard blurb indicating fees that may be payable in a box at the foot of the letter.
I contacted the council, who steadfastly stuck to the 'sort it with the bailiff' mantra, spoke to the enforcement agency who stuck by the 'give me my money mantra.
Now, I was horrified to find that I was a tax dodger! I'm well into my forties and apart from a minor indiscretion with car finance when I was 19 have never defaulted on anything and have always paid my dues.
In the meantime I have completed a statutory declaration stating that I was unaware of proceedings against me and sent it to the court

What kind of statutory declaration?




(which has not been acknowledged

Court service doesn't acknowledge anything.


and still no signature on the Royal Mail special delivery website). Concurrently persuaded the council to 'hold off the enforcement' for 4 weeks while I submit an appeal.
What kind of appeal is that?




And have emailed the enforcement agency informing them that I have submitted a statutory declaration IAW 37.16 of the Magistrates' Courts Act.

And at the same time asked for an exact breakdown of the debt IAW Reg 7(e) of the Taking Control of Goods Act (I hope thats right).
Unfortunately not, rule 37.11 is for convictions. Liability orders are not a conviction.


So that's where I am. I want (ok not want but know it's my responsibility) to pay the tax I owe and have/had no intention of ever not doing so. The only reason it's not been paid can only be put down to ignorance of the rules; which I know is no real defence in law. But I do find enforcement a) scary, particularly as I work away a lot and am concerned for my wife back in the house who might get a visit. b) the amount extra I have to pay ridiculous due to an honest mistake. I'm not trying to abrogate my responsibilities.

Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you to those who stuck this paragraph to the end.

Al
Follow this and see what leads it gives:

http://beatthebailiffs.org/Council-tax-bailiffs.html
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ajp354
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#3 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by ajp354 » 13 Jun 2017 10:53

Thank you for your reply Jason. It is very much appreciated.

I probably haven't articulated everything as well as I would have liked, I was a bit ranty at first. Empty properties was just referring to the fact that last time the property was empty it was exempt CT for up to 6 months so no charge was raised, I am assuming no bill was sent (or a bill saying zero to the old correspondence address).

The council are standing by the fact that I did not inform them of our new (in 2011) address. I am sure I did so, but the Council say they have no record. After so long neither do I so cannot prove it.

The statutory declaration I sent to the Court is the one saying that I was not aware of any proceedings against me until the 4 Jun 2017.

The appeal mentioned was one with the council (not yet submitted). A stage 1 appeal to try and persuade them to start again and send a bill to my current address which I will settle. The lady on the phone refused this and kept saying 'it was your responsibility to keep us updated'. As I said, I am positive I did so, and was informed that they have no record and the onus is on me to prove I did.

I was rather hoping that the Statutory Declaration would get me a chance to have the process set aside and started again so I can pay the bill before any hearing. Unfortunately as you point out that isn't the case.

UPDATE: When I first rang the Council, I asked for them to send me copies of all historical correspondence. In amongst all the paperwork was a 'Notice of Adjustment' (I think) dated 6th June with a bill for the original CT and £90 court costs. I paid that sum immediately and have a receipt. I have telephoned them today enquiring about the status of my account and the reply was that the account was zero. He added that he could not find anything relating to enforcement action at all on my account. So I have emailed the recovery team to advise in writing that enforcement action has ceased. I just have this niggle that Jacobs may not be aware and send the bailiffs to my property and strong arm (figuratively speaking) the wife.

Jacobs have not replied to any of my correspondence should I ring them?

Sorry again for the long post, I really am well outside my comfort zone with this stuff and more afraid for my wife back home while I am away. She is not a vulnerable person and I understand should anything happen I can deal with it retrospectively; but it's more important to me that she is not subjected to anything upsetting at all.

Thanks again

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#4 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by Schedule 12 » 13 Jun 2017 11:26

ajp354 wrote:
13 Jun 2017 10:53
Thank you for your reply Jason. It is very much appreciated.

I probably haven't articulated everything as well as I would have liked, I was a bit ranty at first. Empty properties was just referring to the fact that last time the property was empty it was exempt CT for up to 6 months so no charge was raised, I am assuming no bill was sent (or a bill saying zero to the old correspondence address).

The council are standing by the fact that I did not inform them of our new (in 2011) address. I am sure I did so, but the Council say they have no record. After so long neither do I so cannot prove it.

You just need to tell the council the property was empty and on what dates. Escalate to the Local Government Ombudsman if the council gets funny.


The statutory declaration I sent to the Court is the one saying that I was not aware of any proceedings against me until the 4 Jun 2017.
Doesn't apply to liability orders. Only for convictions, the defendant didn't know about.




The appeal mentioned was one with the council (not yet submitted). A stage 1 appeal to try and persuade them to start again and send a bill to my current address which I will settle. The lady on the phone refused this and kept saying 'it was your responsibility to keep us updated'. As I said, I am positive I did so, and was informed that they have no record and the onus is on me to prove I did.

I was rather hoping that the Statutory Declaration would get me a chance to have the process set aside and started again so I can pay the bill before any hearing. Unfortunately as you point out that isn't the case.

UPDATE: When I first rang the Council, I asked for them to send me copies of all historical correspondence. In amongst all the paperwork was a 'Notice of Adjustment' (I think) dated 6th June with a bill for the original CT and £90 court costs. I paid that sum immediately and have a receipt. I have telephoned them today enquiring about the status of my account and the reply was that the account was zero. He added that he could not find anything relating to enforcement action at all on my account. So I have emailed the recovery team to advise in writing that enforcement action has ceased. I just have this niggle that Jacobs may not be aware and send the bailiffs to my property and strong arm (figuratively speaking) the wife.

Jacobs have not replied to any of my correspondence should I ring them?
No. They will mess you about.




Sorry again for the long post, I really am well outside my comfort zone with this stuff and more afraid for my wife back home while I am away. She is not a vulnerable person and I understand should anything happen I can deal with it retrospectively; but it's more important to me that she is not subjected to anything upsetting at all.

Thanks again
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ajp354
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#5 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by ajp354 » 13 Jun 2017 17:14

Another update.

Had a voicemail left for me by the council stating that the debt to the council is clear but bailiff fees are outstanding.
Still no contact from the enforcement agency since the 'further notice of enforcement' stating the £850 that first alerted me to the debt.
Are these fees legitimate?

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#6 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by Schedule 12 » 14 Jun 2017 20:56

The fees are legit, but there is no enforcement power in respect of them.

The enforcement power only applies to the council tax and the cost of taking and selling goods to pay the debt. As no goods were taken into control, let alone sold, there is no other debt having an enforcement power.

Paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

See also the definition of "amount outstanding" under paragraph 50(3) of Schedule 12.
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ajp354
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#7 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by ajp354 » 19 Jun 2017 22:32

Final (probably) update.

Received a phone call from a manager in the council tax recovery department. He called me in response to an email to the enforcement agency that the council was cc'd in. The email was requesting a full breakdown of fees as their letter was the first I'd heard of the issue.

The manager explained that the law states that they're in their right to use the last known address etc and that everything the council and bailiffs had done was correct etc....

But, he'd done a little digging into my case (didn't explain how or what he'd discovered) and although 'in law the council are in their rights etc' he felt that should a complaint end up with the ombudsman he felt that my complaint would be upheld. He has therefore stopped the enforcement action, cancelled all fees and will return £90 court costs to me.

Could have knocked me down with a feather as I hadn't yet submitted an official complaint!

Just wanted to write this and say (in my experience) not all council staff are heartless jobsworths.

Cheers and thanks for the advice. And good luck to those who find themselves in stressful enforcement situations.

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#8 Re: Council Tax - Had no idea I was Summoned

Post by Schedule 12 » 20 Jun 2017 09:27

Thanks for updating us. Well done.
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