Tax dodgers get 38,000 court orders

NEARLY 38,000 court orders were issued against council and business tax defaulters in just 12 months, according to government figures.Two of the county's councils today said they do everything they can to avoid going thorough the courts in their efforts to chase those that do not pay on time.

SUFFOLK: Nearly 38,000 court orders were issued against council and business tax defaulters in just 12 months, according to government figures.

Two of the county's councils today said they do everything they can to avoid going thorough the courts in their efforts to chase those that do not pay on time. However, in fairness to the law-abiding taxpayers, they will pursue a legal route when necessary.

Bridget Prentice, parliamentary under-secretary of the Ministry of Justice revealed that there were 3,121,000 liability orders made nationally during the financial year 2008-09.

A total of 37,912 of them were made by magistrates at courts on behalf of the seven borough and district councils throughout Suffolk.


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The figures were revealed in a reply to a question tabled in the House of Commons.

Ipswich Borough Council obtained 5,936 liability orders alone.

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John Carnall, deputy leader of the council, said: “We pursue a very rigorous policy to recover unpaid council tax and we use the courts as a last resort. Otherwise the tax burden would be greater and that would be unacceptable to the vast majority of people who do pay promptly.”

Suffolk Coastal District Council had to get nearly 3,000 summonses issued during the same financial year, but urged anyone who was struggling to pay to contact its officers.

A spokesman for the council said: “Suffolk Coastal does use the courts as one of its last resorts in terms of chasing up outstanding council tax and is one of the tools that meant we were one of the top performing councils last year for collecting payments due to us.

“However we would also urge anyone with problems paying their council tax or indeed their rent to contact our benefits team on 01394 444838 as there may be help we can offer them.

“People should call us if they are facing any difficulties with their council tax bills. The worst thing they can do is ignore them as they could end up in court facing an even larger debt to pay off.”

A liability order is a decision by magistrates stating individuals or businesses have not paid in full the amount of council tax or business rates shown on a summons.

It gives the council the power to take further action to recover the debt.

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