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Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

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Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Spankymonkey » Sat Oct 01, 2016 1:00 am

If you are sent to prison for Culpable neglect or wilfull refusal to pay the council tax, is the debt then wiped? Or will you still have to face it upon release? In which case, especially if you wilfully refuse to pay, round and round in prison circles you may go.
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Oct 01, 2016 7:46 am

Theoretically, no: the tax remains payable. But no further action can be taken against the taxpayer to enforce it.
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:31 am

Incidentally, the Courts have ruled repeatedly that imprisonment must be a last resort. In almost all cases where there is an application for judicial review of a magistrates' decision to impose custody, the High Court quashes the decision as unlawful: either they've failed to impose an alternative, or they've failed in their statutory duty to undertake a means inquiry.

There's almost always an alternative: either the taxpayer has some means to pay, in which case the Court should impose an appropriate order to attach earnings or benefits (or deduct the money from bank accounts); or there are no means to pay, in which case the isn't guilty of culpable neglect or willful refusal.
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Oct 01, 2016 10:22 am

Spankymonkey wrote:If you are sent to prison for Culpable neglect or wilfull refusal to pay the council tax, is the debt then wiped? Or will you still have to face it upon release? In which case, especially if you wilfully refuse to pay, round and round in prison circles you may go.

I have heard tell of that happening in respect of fines for begging... I was inclined to suspect some distortion of the truth, but it was not the place for a cross examination.
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby dls » Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:09 pm

Theoretically, no: the tax remains payable.

Agreed
But no further action can be taken against the taxpayer to enforce it

This makes sense, but I have never come across the rule. I can see this creating difficulties on future payments - are they first allocated against the oldest arrears?
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:46 pm

A billing authority has to obtain a Liability Order separately for each year's tax. If a taxpayer is committed to prison there cannot be further enforcement proceedings in respect of the Liability Orders for which they were jailed, but it does not prevent enforcement of other years.
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby dls » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:21 pm

If a payment is made after release and after a second year has started, is that payment automatically allocated to he earlier (and unenforceable) year?
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:37 pm

My understanding is that they are written off, so that a taxpayer cannot defend future enforcement action on those grounds. (Unless, of course, they pay up in order to secure their release.)
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby dls » Sat Oct 01, 2016 10:11 pm

Sending someone to prison nevessarily involvs a finding of fact that the debt could have been paid. If so, why is it discharged?

I have seen several council policies. Some say nothing. Only te Manchester policy gets near echoing your approach, but with no statutory justification. Do you know of any?
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Re: Culpable neglect and wilfull refusal

Postby Spankymonkey » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:19 am

In almost all cases where there is an application for judicial review of a magistrates' decision to impose custody, the High Court quashes the decision as unlawful


Yes, I was reading some old cases and news reports relating to this. What prompted my question was that in one of the cases the woman who was sent to prison had £60 per day wiped from the debt. But I was wondering who on earth would have made that decision to deduct: the court or the local authority?

Also, is there not a maximum term you can be sent to prison for wilful refusal? Section 5 of the Debtors Act states that:

"any court may commit to prison for a term not exceeding six weeks"

In relation to the debt it goes on to say:

"Any person imprisoned under this section shall be discharged out of custody upon a certificate signed in the prescribed manner to the effect that he has satisfied the debt or instalment of a debt in respect of which he was imprisoned, together with the prescribed costs (if any)"

Of course, my question related specifically to Council Tax, so I assume that the Debtors Act does not apply in these circumstances and instead "The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992" will be enforced? But I was wondering, if the council or the courts were willing to knock £60 off per day, could you not serve your time in relation to the debt and then be released as per the second part of the debtor's act I have quoted?

If a taxpayer is committed to prison there cannot be further enforcement proceedings in respect of the Liability Orders

If the local authority can no longer enforce the liability order once you have been released from jail, then surely their only means of collection are civil and not statutory? It's as if the liability order no longer has any effect and all it's powers have been drained. And I would have thought - although I'm sure my logic is flawed - that they cannot add this unpaid amount to any new liability order that has yet to be enforced.

After all, some people have more time than money. Convenient way of paying the council tax could therefore be to serve some hard time.
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