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Who should pay Council Tax?

Only people aged 18 or over have to pay Council Tax, if there is more than one person aged 18 or over in your home, the person who falls highest in the following list is responsible (liable) for paying Council Tax:

  • resident freeholder, for example owner occupier
  • resident leaseholder, for example owner occupier who is paying ground rent
  • resident statutory or secure tenant, for example housing association or private tenant
  • resident licensee, for example the landlord of a public house who lives on the premises
  • other resident, for example a resident with no agreement
  • non-resident owner when the property is vacant.

* If a tenant leaves a property unoccupied and still holds a tenancy agreement, where the contract term is for less than six months, the owner is liable for the unoccupied period.

Can more than one person be responsible for paying the council tax bill?

More than one person can be charged for Council Tax if they have an equal interest in a property, such as joint tenants. It also applies to couples, both married and unmarried or in a civil partnership.

This is known as Joint and Several liability. Where there is more than one liable person, a bill will be sent in joint names, this means the charge is not split equally between each person and there is equal responsibility for the full charge.

Some residents are ‘not counted’ for Council Tax such as students and persons with severe mental impairment, this can affect who should be made liable and a discount may apply.

View information on Council Tax discounts

When residents are not responsible for paying council tax

There are occasions where the owner is liable but not the residents. These are as follows:

  • dwellings with multiple occupants that have separate rental agreements and shared facilities, known as a Houses in Multiple Occupation
  • residential care homes, nursing homes and bail or probation hostels
  • dwellings occupied by resident staff
  • dwellings occupied by ministers of religion, for example vicarages
  • dwellings occupied by religious communities, for example convents
  • dwellings occupied by asylum seekers.

Some properties may be exempt from paying Council Tax even if there is someone living there.

View information on Council Tax exemptions

Council Tax and 'Freeman on the Land' or Similar Groups 

Council tax is a statutory tax on residents and some owners of homes in the Borough. The amount of money collected helps to pay for the essential services that benefits the Borough of Telford & Wrekin as a whole, such as provision of adult social care and funding for schools.

The 'Freeman on the Land' movement and similar groups commonly believe that they are bound only by statute laws they consent to, which means they don't have to pay Council Tax. This is a common misconception, as there is no requirement for a contract or consent. If you are liable to pay council tax you must pay, it is not optional. 

Council Tax Liability 

The liability for council tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, gives the authority the right to demand council tax.

Visit the Legislation website for more information on the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.

Any assertion that a person is required to consent, or to enter into a contract with the council, and this prevents their liability to pay council tax; is incorrect in law and there is no legal basis upon which to make such an argument. 

Misleading Articles Online 

There are many misleading websites, articles and templates regarding the legality of council tax. You should seek professional legal advice before considering this as a defence against non-payment of council tax. 

Non-payment of Council Tax 

If you choose not to pay your council tax, we will take steps to recover this money from you. The Magistrates' Court will grant a liability order and further refusal to pay could result in your committal to prison.

It is important to note that the courts have previously considered the 'freeman' argument and have not accepted this as a reason to ignore or opt out of paying council tax. In the case of Manchester Magistrates' Court vs McKenzie 2015, an individual attempted to use this argument to justify non-payment and was sent to prison for 40 days.

Telford & Wrekin have a responsibility to all the taxpayers in our Borough to take action against those that refuse to pay, to ensure we continue to provide the essential services to our local communities.

If you are struggling to pay or worried about debt view information about independent advice and support.

Last updated: 25/04/2024 09:13

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