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Tax dodgers in £200,000 debt despite freeze

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

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A COUNCIL owed more than £200,000 in unpaid tax is pursuing hundreds of more cheats - as another freeze is proposed tonight.

East Staffordshire Borough Council has been granted liability orders against another 367 people for non-payment of council tax and 24 who failed to pay non-domestic – or business - rates, totalling more than £200,000.

The latest war on Burton’s tax cheats comes after the borough council filed for legal action over a £640,000 tax shortfall in January and £300,000 in February, meaning in total the authority is seeking to recoup is more than £1 million.

The latest unpaid council tax case comes to a total of £122,261, while the authority lost out on £84,510.88 in business rates.

Most of the bills relate to the current financial year.

The borough council appeared at Stafford Magistrates’ Court and was granted permission to pursue the cash owed to it by other means such as deductions from earnings or benefits.

Julian Mott (pictured), leader of the borough council said the authority would aim to freeze council tax in 2015-16 – making it the fifth time tax has not risen in the borough.

Residents in East Staffordshire currently pay some of the lowest council tax rates in the country

Robert Oxley, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has said: “Tough action should be taken on those who refuse, while others who are simply struggling with rising bills should be helped with easier ways to pay.

“Keeping council tax low is the easiest way to ensure people don’t struggle to pay, while the council should always differentiate those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay.”

The authority said residents are offered initiatives to help them pay tax in instalments, while people struggling to meet payments were urged not to bury their heads in the sand.

A spokesman said: “We must issue reminder notices and summonses before applying for liability orders.

“We have taken the proactive step of providing residents with the option to pay their council tax over 12 monthly instalments, an increase from 10 months, reducing their monthly outgoings.

“If any council taxpayer or non-domestic rates payer is experiencing difficulties in paying their tax at any time after their initial bill is sent, we urge them to contact us as soon as possible by telephoning our revenues team on 01283 508030 or visiting our Customer Service Centre in the Market Place, Burton.”

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