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Council Tax Advice Needed Please

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Hi all, apologies if I've posted this in the wrong place but I'm just looking for a bit of advice. My mum received a council tax reminder, stating if she doesn't pay within 7 days she will receive a summons. I pay all her bills for her as she is housebound. She pays the council tax in cash and I have the receipt for the month in question from the post office. I phoned our local council to query this, and was basically told my receipt means nothing to them as I had handed cash over to a third party, and so she had to take it up with the post office - if she can't do this in the next few days to expect a summons letter if she wasn't able to make the payment again. I told the guy on the phone I was not prepared to pay it again as it had already been paid. Has anyone got any experience of this and what to do next? I've told her not to worry but she is 77, recently widowed and has never had to deal with anything like this.  Is it right that we need to chase it up ourselves? Thanks in advance

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  • CISCIS Forumite
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    The council are correct in that matter- the post office are effectively your mother's agents for handing over the money to the council and the post office are the ones who you need to contact to see where the payment has gone to. In the meantime the council can, legally, proceed with a court summons.
    Post Office payments are a nightmare, I used to see more problems with payments made that way than anywhere else. Payments not being passed to the council. wrong details being sent to the council etc etc.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    Why on earth don't you set this up on a DD so that in future this cannot happen again? Having to both draw cash and pay in cash is awkward enough in normal times: at present it's absurd.
    The payment has probably arrived, but was miscoded and so has gone into a suspense account. as they can't determine the correct account to allocate it to. Incredibly common with cash or cheque payments.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • inspectorperezinspectorperez Forumite
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    As a previous poster has commented, the payment is almost certainly contained within a suspense account awaiting some clerical input to identify the linked council tax account to which it applies.
    It does not sound on the face of it that you have not had a sympathetic person at the other end of the telephone line. I think I might be enquiring whether there was some way you could send by email an image of the receipt to the council tax office. If this is the way your mum pays regularly, it should in theory be traceable by reference to the reference on the receipt and the pattern of her normal regular cash payments.
    I found with my own deceased mother who was totally switched on, that (after she was widowed) she adopted set routines and the concept of a direct debit was something of an alien concept when she or a kindly neighbour could pop down to the post office and pay her council tax and other household bills in cash.
    Perhaps the council can offer some positive advice to someone who is housebound other than the conventional methods of direct debit or standing order?
    The other important thing I believe is to establish some credible dialogue by letter or email to the council, so that in the event that there was some form of summons issued, you have proof that the bill was paid and you had attempted to be helpful with the council in providing the appropriate evidence!
    In the are where I live, the Council refuse to provide a reference for telephone calls and rely on a statement that all calls are recorded. I have yet to test that one!!
  • edited 2 June at 11:42AM
    CISCIS Forumite
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    edited 2 June at 11:42AM
    macman said:
    The payment has probably arrived, but was miscoded and so has gone into a suspense account. as they can't determine the correct account to allocate it to. Incredibly common with cash or cheque payments.
    As a previous poster has commented, the payment is almost certainly contained within a suspense account awaiting some clerical input to identify the linked council tax account to which it applies.
    It may be in a council suspense account due to wrong/missing details being supplied with the payment but, in my experience, probably 9/10 of the issues with post office payments were payments that never arrived at the council until the payment was chased directly with the post office. Their systems are far from good.
    The other important thing I believe is to establish some credible dialogue by letter or email to the council, so that in the event that there was some form of summons issued, you have proof that the bill was paid and you had attempted to be helpful with the council in providing the appropriate evidence!
    That only assists if the council have the payment, that has not yet been established. Proof of payment to a 3rd party is not proof of receipt by the council and so, without evidebce that the council have the money, it does not prevent a summons being issued or liability order granted,.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • I would be telling the council that in the situation of a pandemic, threatening a summons is totally unacceptable. Creditors have put accounts on hold for 90 days, mortgage lenders have offered holidays. Its only the BBC and councils who seem to think they are above even national emergencies. 
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    I would be telling the council that in the situation of a pandemic, threatening a summons is totally unacceptable. Creditors have put accounts on hold for 90 days, mortgage lenders have offered holidays. Its only the BBC and councils who seem to think they are above even national emergencies. 
    Perfectly legal though and it isn't anything that would stop a liability order being granted.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    I would be telling the council that in the situation of a pandemic, threatening a summons is totally unacceptable. Creditors have put accounts on hold for 90 days, mortgage lenders have offered holidays. Its only the BBC and councils who seem to think they are above even national emergencies. 
    The status of a council is different to that of a business, their actions in this case would be supported by legislation
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