A LITTLE Sutton man has been jailed for 54 days because of unpaid Council Tax.
The defendant, a self-employed man aged 58, had failed to pay more than £2,000 to the borough council.
He had previously been ordered to pay his arrears at a rate set by the court at £15 per week.
A suspended prison sentence had previously been imposed when the payment terms had been set, but at the latest hearing the chairman of the bench in Chester found the defendant guilty of culpable neglect and activated the sentence.
A prison sentence for unpaid Council Tax can only be reduced if the defendant pays the outstanding amount. If paid in full the sentence is terminated and he is free to leave the prison.
A full sentence is served if payment is not made, and there is no reduction due to “good behaviour” which generally applies for other offences.
Bev Wright, benefits and taxation unit manager at the borough council, said: “It is deeply regrettable that it came to a custodial sentence being passed.
“However, the defendant had many opportunities in which to deal with this matter but chose to ignore it.”
She added: “The vast majority of people pay their Council Tax when it becomes due in contribution towards public services within Cheshire. There are unfortunately a relatively small element who do not.
“It is the council’s legal duty to ensure Council Tax is collected and in cases where it is not paid, to take court proceedings against them.”
After obtaining a Liability Order, the council can also involve a bailiff and place a charge on property owned by the taxpayer, which can result in the property being sold.
If the person is working or in receipt of benefits, direct deductions can be enforced. Bankruptcy proceedings can also be taken.
If none of these options are relevant, then commitment to prison proceedings will be taken.
The council says imprisonment is very much a last resort and that it would always prefer that anyone having difficulty paying should contact them as soon as possible.
They could then determine whether they would be entitled to a rebate or any of the various discounts that are available depending on your circumstances.
The Council Tax office can be contacted on 0151 356 6855.