Skip to main content
Text size

Challenges to the Legality of Council Tax.

The majority of people in the St Albans District pay their Council Tax in full and on time. However, we occasionally receive arguments about the legality of Council Tax. Often these arguments will claim individuals are only bounds by the contracts and laws they have consented to. Sometimes these arguments make reference to the 'Freeman of the Land' movement. 

Liability for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This statute was created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom and has received Royal Assent. This legislation, and subsequent statutory instruments (regulations) set out the Local Authorities right to demand Council Tax to fund essential local services. 

This legislation also determines who is liable to pay Council Tax. If you are the person deemed liable to pay Council Tax in respect of a property which has been assessed and placed in a Council Tax Band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) you do not have a choice as to whether you pay Council Tax. Freeman of the land and similar arguments do not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax. 

Liability for Council Tax is not dependant on and does not require your consent or a contractual agreement between you and the Local Authority. Any assertion to the contrary is incorrect and has no legal basis. Where Council Tax is due and payment is not made in accordance with the demand notice issued by the Local Authority, we will take recovery action against individuals. This includes obtaining liability orders and the use of enforcement agents (bailiffs), attachment to earnings / benefits and placing charging orders on properties. 

If you wish to obtain independent advice regarding Council Tax, please speak to an established advice agency such as Citizen's Advice rather than believing misleading internet sources or social media posts. The advice given by such sources is inaccurate and can be dangerous.

If you are on a low income and are struggling to pay your Council Tax, you may be entitled to Council Tax Support, which can reduce the amount you are expected to pay. St Albans District Council has a generous Council Tax Support scheme and residents on a very low income may find they are not expected to pay anything towards their Council Tax. However, we will continue to take action against residents who are able to pay but choose not to. In extreme cases this could lead to committal proceedings, or even a prison sentence. 

The Legislation which governs Council Tax, including the Local Government Finance Act 1992, The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 and the Council Tax (Demand Notice) (England) Regulations 2011 are all available from 

Some residents ask whether Acts and Statutes create an obligation on them, the difference between a Statute and Law, and other similar questions regarding legal matters. Similarly we occasionally receive the argument that an archaic law means they don't have to pay Council Tax. If you have questions regarding Acts of Parliament or Laws, these should be directed to a qualified legal professional, not the Council. 

We will respond to all relevant and appropriate enquiries regarding Council Tax. We will direct other requests to this webpage. This includes requests based on templated letters downloaded from the internet and those making assertions of the type set out above. 

We reserve the right to not respond to lengthy, spurious enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments and have no basis in statute. As you will appreciate, taking the time to respond to such matter could impact on our ability to assist residents with genuine needs or issues. Council Tax is a form of taxation which applies across the UK and we do not consider it the role of a Local Authority to consider arguments against the Council Tax Scheme generally. 

Common arguments received: 

- Please provide a contract between myself and the Council, signed in 'wet ink' by all parties. 

A small minority of residents consider that Council Tax is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement. As already explained, Council Tax is created by 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 signature is not necessary for the collection of council tax. Similarly, no wet ink signature is mandatory on a court summons. 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. 

- Please provide evidence that I’ve agreed with you that you can lawfully collect an alleged debt from me. 

An agreement between the parties is not required for the levy and recovery of Council Tax

- Please provide evidence that I am lawfully obliged to pay Council Tax.

The hierarchy of who is considered to be the liable party is contained in the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Individual agreement of this is not necessary. Citizen's Advice have a useful explanation of how Council Tax hierarchy works. Residents can find out what Council Tax Band their property has been placed in via the Valuation Office Agency Website

- Please provide confirmation the debt exists lawfully.

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

- Please provide me with a VAT invoice.

Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT. Therefore we do not to provide a VAT invoice

- Please state whether you are a company or a corporation.

St Albans City and District Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and therefore does not have a company number