Check If You Qualify

Can you be sent to jail for not paying Council Tax in Scotland?

Sharon McDougall - Updated - 7th August 2023 - 2 minutes to read

Will I get a prison sentence for Council Tax arrears?

If you are a resident of Scotland and you have fallen behind on making council tax payments it is important to act quickly to prevent the situation escalating. Council tax is obligatory to pay and whilst you will not be sentenced to time in prison for failure to pay the consequences for not doing so are nonetheless very serious.

With the cost of living crisis, high energy bills, soaring inflation, rising interest rates and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting many people there are thousands of individuals struggling to stay up to date with their council tax payments. For many people their income has stagnated or even decreased, whilst their monthly costs have increased significantly, meaning that they have more money going out than coming in each month.

Many people who are in council tax arrears have more than £1000 of debt due for repayment to their local council. If you are in this situation or you are concerned that you could get behind on paying your council tax it is vital to act quickly.

Here at Scotland Debt Solutions we have more than two decades of experience in assisting people to get out of council tax arrears. We help them to manage their council tax debt, to liaise with their local council to make a reasonable repayment plan and to ensure that the situation remains manageable.

Council Tax should be prioritised as part of your monthly or yearly budgeting plans, as the payment is made in monthly instalments or paid in a lump sum annually at the beginning of the year. You may also be able to get a reduction to your Council Tax bill if you receive certain state benefits, if you earn below a certain threshold, or if you live alone.

What is the procedure for enforcement action?

If you do get behind with Council Tax payments your local council has the legal right to take enforcement action against you. Different local councils approach things in different ways but in most cases the procedure is as follows:

First strike: If you’ve initially fallen behind on Council Tax payments you should expect to receive a reminder letter from the council to make the payment or payments, otherwise your credit rating could be affected.

Final notice: After the reminder notice you will usually get a subsequent communication from the council in the form of a final notice. This is serious because it might mean that they immediately pursue full settlement of the outstanding amount for the remainder of the current financial year and you lose your entitlement to pay monthly, which can quickly make things far more uncomfortable to deal with. At this stage you could be looking at a bill of several hundred pounds to be paid in a lump sum, which of course could cause a further significant financial burden.

An arrangement to pay up: You may be able to negotiate with the council to pay what is owed over a specific timeframe, but the finance team of the council have the power here and it is entirely at their discretion whether to allow flexibility or not.

Sheriff Officers: In the case that you consistently fall into arrears with council tax debt the local council can hand over your case to what are known as Sheriff Officers (otherwise referred to as bailiffs in some areas of the United Kingdom). Unfortunately, at this stage the Sheriff Officers have the legal right to step up the pressure in order to enforce the Council Tax debt repayment order against you. They may even repossess physical items from your house to settle the debt.

Clearly if things have already reached this state it could be particularly complicated and upsetting for you and your loved ones. Even at this stage of the process Scotland Debt Solutions can step in and help to make a reasonable agreement to resolve the situation smoothly. Contact us at any time for a free consultation on how we can help with your Council Tax problems.

facebook colour icon twitter colour icon linkedin colour icon messenger colour icon whatsapp colour icon email colour icon
Sharon McDougall Square

Sharon McDougall


Other Articles

Can I borrow money whilst I’m in a Trust Deed? Can I Borrow Money

Can I borrow money whilst I’m in a Trust Deed?

Borrowing money when you’re already deeply in debt requires careful consideration, and consultation with your trustee, as there are various factors associated with further borrowing in this situatio...

Your guide to getting a mortgage after a Trust Deed Guide to get a mortgage

Your guide to getting a mortgage after a Trust Deed

If you’re about to be discharged from a Trust Deed, you may be wondering to what extent your ability to obtain a mortgage has been affected.

What is an inhibition court order in Scotland? Court Order

What is an inhibition court order in Scotland?

If you’ve lost your job, state benefits and tax credits can provide vital financial support to see you through this tough time and help you avoid taking on too much debt while you look for more work...


Why Choose Us

Usp Discussion

Speak Direct With

A Qualified Adviser


We Don't Operate

Call Centres

Usp Location

5 Offices in Scotland

National Coverage

Usp House

Ask us About

Home Visits

Usp Award

Fully Regulated Advisors

From a Reputable Firm

Usp Hand Heart

Helping Scots Get

Out of Debt Since 1989

We'll give you a call

Our Scottish based team can help advise you on your debt problems.

Here at Scotland Debt Solutions we take your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to contact you with regards to your enquiry. We will not use your information for marketing purposes. See our Privacy Policy.


Useful Tools

Personalised Debt Report
Usp Planner

Personalised Debt Report

Our personalised debt report will help you better understand your financial position and see where your money is going.

Debt Report
Instant Scheduled Call & WhatsApp

Instant Scheduled Call & WhatsApp

Arrange a call with an expert advisor at a time to suit you or contact our team via WhatsApp for immediate help and advice.

Arrange Callback
Find a Local Office
Usp Signpost

Find a Local Office

We have five offices located across Scotland. Find your nearest one here.

Find an Office


We can help you with...



Sequestration is the Scottish version of bankruptcy and may be suitable for you if you do not have the money to pay back your debts

Find out More
Trust Deeds in Scotland

Trust Deeds in Scotland

A Trust Deed involves making a monthly contribution to your debts for up to four years. After this time any remaining debt included in the Trust Deed will not need to be paid.

Find out More
Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

A Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) lets you pay off your debt through a series of manageable instalments over a reasonable length of time.

Find out More
Business Debts
Icon Briefcase

Business Debts

Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company director, we can help you work through your current financial problems including money owed to HMRC

Business Debts

Our Insolvency Practitioners are regulated by ICAS or the IPA and our firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Fees and Information: There are fees associated with our services. These will be fully explained before entering into any of the personal debt solutions referred to on this website. Full details of our fees and how these are charged are fully explained to you prior to you committing to any particular service.

ICAS Insolvency Practitioners