Manchester City Council

Council tax What happens if you don't pay your council tax?

A court hearing

If we have tried using enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) but your council tax still isn't paid in full, we may apply to the magistrate's court for a warrant committing you to prison.

We only take this step when other efforts have failed.

The court must hold a 'means enquiry' with you present. The court will only issue a warrant if it is satisfied that you have not paid because

  • you have deliberately refused to pay; or
  • you have been 'culpably negligent' - your failure to pay is blameworthy; and
  • you have the means on the day of the hearing to pay the debt.

The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

The court may postpone the imprisonment on certain conditions, normally around paying of the debt over a period of time. 

The court also has the power to remit (remove) all or part of the debt.

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