How to Pay Council Tax Watch

Chrysospathi
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Hi. I have to pay 4 installments of council tax on December, January, February and March. The receipt I received says payment method is cash, but I won't be in the UK in January. Can I pay by card? Can I pay all installments by card or do I have to call them and have them change it for me?
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Appirition
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"payment method is cash" is almost certainly out of date nowadays. Councils actually prefer electronic payments and you have numerous options. On the back of your official council tax paper bill there should be the bank account number and sort code to pay the money into. This information is also usually available on the council tax page on their website.
Option 1) Log on to your bank account and make each payment on the day it is due. You have to put your council tax account number in the reference box so that your payment goes onto your council tax account. If you go for this option I recommend setting yourself a reminder for every month so that you don't inadvertently get into arrears.
Option 2) Log on to your bank account and set up a standing order to pay the council on the date it is due and set it for 4 payments. Again, put your council tax account number in the reference box so that your payment goes onto your council tax account. This only works if the amount is the same every time.
Before you leave the UK, make sure you can do these via your bank's mobile app if you aren't taking a laptop with you. Some banks only allow payments to existing payee's from their app, and all new payee's have to be paid the first time using the bank's full website.

Option 3) Phone the council and ask them to set up a direct debit. The benefit of this is that they will take the correct value on the correct date, and you will also be set up to pay next year's bill in instalments so you won't have to do anything for April, May, June, etc. The down side to this is that they will continue taking the money until you tell them you have moved out of the property.
Option 4) Some councils also allow you to log in to your council tax account on their website and make the payment using a credit or debit card.

There may be other options as well, those are the main ones that I can think of just now.

When you go abroad, make sure you have your council tax account number and the phone number for your council's council tax helpline with you. If there are any problems, phone them and they will help as best they can.
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black tea
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(Original post by Chrysospathi)
Hi. I have to pay 4 installments of council tax on December, January, February and March. The receipt I received says payment method is cash, but I won't be in the UK in January. Can I pay by card? Can I pay all installments by card or do I have to call them and have them change it for me?
Have you had a look on the council website? Usually, there is an option there allowing you to pay by card.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Chrysospathi)
Hi. I have to pay 4 installments of council tax on December, January, February and March. The receipt I received says payment method is cash, but I won't be in the UK in January. Can I pay by card? Can I pay all installments by card or do I have to call them and have them change it for me?
You can pay this by direct debit. Ring up your council and ask to set this up. You won't have to remember to make manual payments then.
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ShaunT
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Also, if you're a student, have you checked you really need to pay Council Tax at all as the house may be exempt if it's only occupied by students? And don't forget the 25% single occupancy discount if you're not a student but live alone (or just with people who are students, as "they don't count").
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Chrysospathi
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Yeah I have to pay 190 pounds for the July-September period that i had a tenancy agreement but wasn't a student yet. Does anyone know if I can set up a direct debit for 4 installments instead of 10 or 12? You have been all very helpful though, thank you!
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ShaunT
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Normally you can always pay monthly by Direct Debit up to the end of the Council Tax year, so to March inclusive (which seems to be exactly what you want), from any point during the year no matter how you were paying before that point.
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black tea
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(Original post by Chrysospathi)
Yeah I have to pay 190 pounds for the July-September period that i had a tenancy agreement but wasn't a student yet. Does anyone know if I can set up a direct debit for 4 installments instead of 10 or 12? You have been all very helpful though, thank you!
I can't see why not, I've always been able to choose how often I pay.
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ShaunT
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Not sure though if the fact that you appear to owe money from last July to September might affect these normal council rules, since if you fail to pay Council Tax when it's due then the whole amount becomes payable immediately. This might explain why you seem to have been told that you need to pay "cash", implying immediately. If this is the case it'll definitely be worth querying it with the council, and if they insist on immediate payment of the full amount, it might be worth going to your local Citizens Advice Bureau to see if they can help change the council's mind. Good luck!
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Appirition
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(Original post by Chrysospathi)
Does anyone know if I can set up a direct debit for 4 installments instead of 10 or 12?
The general rule is - The total amount due for each year 1st April to 31st March has to be paid by 31st March. If there is less than 10 months left till 31st March, 10 monthly instalments usually isn't an option unless you make special arrangements with the council.
Conveniently for you, there are now 4 full months left until the end of the tax year so yes you may be able to set up a direct debit for 4 instalments. However, if the council sees the debt as overdue they are less likely to be willing to set up a direct debit until the full overdue amount is paid.
Instead of paying by direct debit which is set up and controlled by the council, you can log on to your bank account and set up a standing order (some banks call it 'regular payment') to pay the outstanding amount in 4 instalments. If you chose to do this, you must tell the council in writing that this is what you are doing. Although the council may not like it, they won't take any action against you providing the 4 payments go through when you've said they will and the total amount due for the year 1st April to 31st March is paid before 31st March.
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