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Council Tax legality – Frequently asked questions

Council Tax legality - frequently asked questions

The council has a responsibility to bill and collect Council Tax, but this does not mean it introduces a fiduciary relationship (a situation in which one person justifiably places confidence and trust in someone else and seeks that person's help or advice in some matter).

We do not require consent to collect unpaid Council Tax charges.

More information can be found on our main 'Freeman of the land - legality of Council Tax' page.

Common questions or requests about the legality of Council Tax

Here are the most common questions or requests we receive about the legality of Council Tax:


Some residents consider that Council Tax is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement. As already explained, Council Tax is a creature of statute, and a contract is not required. Therefore, any reference to the Companies Act, Contracts Act, Bills of Exchange Act or other acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant. 

A variation of this question is ‘Please provide evidence that I’ve agreed with you that you can lawfully collect an alleged debt from me.’ Again, this is inconsequential, as there hasn’t been an exchange of contracts or agreement. Neither is required for the levy and recovery of Council Tax. 

The hierarchy of who is considered to be the liable party is contained in the Local Government Finance Act 1992 c14 Part 1, Chapter 1, Sections 6-9. Individual agreement of this is not necessary. 

Whether a name is legal or fictional is irrelevant for the purposes of Council Tax. Council Tax is charged and is payable by whoever the liable party is, which is determined by reference to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.

The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for Council Tax, it is a tax, not a contract. 

As covered above, a signature is not necessary for the billing of Council Tax and no wet ink signature is mandatory on a court summons either. Previous case law has clarified that the use of a rubber stamp or electronic signature are both valid for the purpose of the court signing a summons. 

Being a Freeman of the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore.

It should be noted, Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice. 

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.

Under Regulation 8 of the Data Protection Act 2018 the Authority does not require consent to process data that is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in exercise of the controllers official for the exercise of a function conferred by an enactment or rule of law. The billing and collection of Council Tax is conferred on the Authority by the legislation stated previously. This is in keeping with Article 6 (c) and (e) of the GDPR regulations.

Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for the Council Tax department to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations)

and

Public task: the processing is necessary for the Council Tax department to perform a task in the public interest or for our official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law. That task is to collect money on behalf of the Local Authority.

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council complies with all relevant legislation with regard to the billing and collection of Council Tax. If you believe the authority has acted incorrectly you must follow the dispute processes laid down in that legislation. A Subject Access Request permits you the right to ask about your personal data that is held by an organisation. It is not a process to instigate a dispute or complaint nor is it a process to ask questions about anything other than your personal data.

Further information on data sharing can be found at:

We follow legislation according to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992

If you have a dispute regarding the granting of a Liability Order against you then you need to take this up with the Magistrates Court. You will need to explain why you feel Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council have not followed the correct process and apply for your liability order to be set aside.

Anyone who ignores Council Tax communications or withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them.

Following the Magistrates’ Court Hearing at which Liability Orders are granted, a full list of those granted is produced. The list contains the names and addresses of those charge payers against who an order was granted together with the amount they owe. This list is produced electronically, and an electronic copy is kept by both the Local Authority and the Magistrates’ Court in which the orders were granted.

The granting of a Liability Order is a legal process and is not a document and as such cannot be evidenced in the form of a document.

Very occasionally we get people that have been convinced that using an archaic law means they do not have to pay Council Tax and there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax. Anyone drawing on these for advice should exercise caution and seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent, and common law.

 


Last Updated on Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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