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Council Tax - why you are required to pay

The legal requirement to impose and collect Council Tax

South Lanarkshire Council, as a local authority, has a statutory obligation to bill and collect Council Tax.

Once liability for Council Tax has been determined, you do not have the choice to "opt out" of paying this. The council will bill and collect the Council Tax as determined. Furthermore, the council does not need agreement from you prior to issuing the demand notice or in the collection of the Council Tax.

The legislation under which South Lanarkshire Council is obliged to levy and collect Council Tax is available at and is:

Challenges to Council Tax - Sovereign Citizens and others

The Sovereign Citizen movement and other groups (including the freemen of the land and Sovereign Scot movements) who are opposed to the payment of Council Tax, frequently contend that they are not required to pay as they do not recognise statute law.

Refusal to pay Council Tax on the basis that you have not agreed to this or claim not to be bound by the relevant legislation, will not avoid your liability to pay. This will result in costs being added to your bill and action being taken by the council to recover outstanding sums, including through the courts.

Before you make any decisions based on the information circulated by these groups, please read the information on this page and, if necessary, take independent legal advice from a solicitor or an official organisation such as Citizens Advice Scotland.

The examples below are some of the statements that are frequently made by these groups to support their stance on non-payment of Council Tax, together with explanations as to why these are not valid arguments.

"I am a Sovereign Citizen, I am not required to pay Council Tax"

Declaring yourself as a Sovereign Citizen (or equivalent) does not make you exempt from paying Council Tax. Your liability to pay is determined by the legislation we have referred to above. You cannot exempt yourself by making such a declaration.

"I do not give my consent to hold and process my personal data"

If you are liable to pay Council Tax, the council is entitled to hold and process your personal data to discharge its statutory duties in terms of Article 6.1(c) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), without your consent. This Regulation states that it is lawful for us to hold your personal data if it is to allow us to comply with a legal obligation.

The GDPR makes it clear that consent is unlikely ever to be the legal basis on which a public authority, such as the council, processes the personal data of individuals. This applies to almost all processing of personal data by the council, not just for Council Tax purposes.

You can find details of how we process your data on our website.

"South Lanarkshire Council is registered under D-U-N-S and appears to be a not-for-profit company that is unable to demand Council Tax"

South Lanarkshire Council is a council established by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 and is not a company formed under the Companies Acts. 

"South Lanarkshire Council must establish a contract with me to collect Council Tax"

Council Tax is a tax imposed on those who are liable to pay it under the authority of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. It is not a contract, so the council does not have to demonstrate that a contract exists, that there was relevant consideration or that you were properly invoiced under such a contract. Council Tax is a property-based tax, not an invoice for services. 

"South Lanarkshire Council has not followed the correct procedure to collect Council Tax"

Both the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) (Scotland) Regulations 1992 (as amended), provide the statutory basis for the issue of Council Tax demand notices. Council Tax collection is governed by this legislation.

The council is compelled by law to collect Council Tax as detailed on the most recently issued demand notice. If payment is not received in accordance with the instalment profile detailed in the demand notice, the council is required to issue statutory arrears recovery documentation advising you of the arrears position. It also advises of any subsequent recovery action that will be taken, should there be a failure to comply with the recovery notice.

If Council Tax remains unpaid, the council will apply to the Sheriff Court for a Summary Warrant against the person(s) liable to pay. The ability of the council to apply to the Sheriff for a Summary Warrant, the procedures required to be followed in doing so, and the power of the Sheriff to grant a Summary Warrant, are outlined within the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended), and the other legislation described above.

Summary Warrants are typically not signed with a "wet ink" signature by the Sheriff granting them. The Summary Warrants will note "This document has been electronically authenticated and requires no wet signature."

Where required, we will share your data with our contracted Sheriff Officers, HM Revenues and Customs or The Department for Work and Pensions for the purpose of performing any of our statutory collection duties.

Council Tax does not attract VAT (Value-Added Tax) and there is no requirement for the council to produce a VAT invoice in connection with Council Tax bills. The council would be in breach of VAT regulations if this happened. For the same reason, there is no need for the council to include its VAT registration number on Council Tax bills and related correspondence.

"Ancient laws supposedly make the council's actions unlawful"

We have received representations from individuals to the effect that the council is acting unlawfully because of the provisions of Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Bills of Exchange Act 1882, or of any of a number of other very old and legally irrelevant laws, or alternatively, we are acting unlawfully because we are applying statute law or admiralty law rather than the common law. 

Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are not and have never been part of the law of Scotland, and neither the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 nor any of the other old statutes referred to in these representations have any relevance or bearing on the issue of liability for Council Tax. We do not apply admiralty law. Admiralty law provides the framework for international trade and again has no relevance or bearing on the issue of liability for Council Tax. We apply statute law, as described above, as this represents the law of the country, regardless of whether or not someone agrees with it or claims that some other law or laws overrule it.

The council's actions in administering Council Tax do not violate the prohibition of slavery, nor do they involve putting people, or attempting to put people, into servitude or forced labour.

"I am a living human being, not the (dead) legal fiction person your bill is addressed to"

The distinction some people seek to make between their persona as a living human being and their persona as a fictitious non-living legal entity is not one recognised in Scots law, or in any other jurisdiction we are aware of. Use of unusual capitalisation or punctuation when writing your name does not change this. You do not own copyright or other intellectual property rights in your name, which is a matter of public record and can be used by the council (consistent with our data protection obligations) without your permission and without incurring any obligation to pay for doing so.

It is completely unnecessary, when contacting us, to include a fingerprint on your letter, intended to show that you are a living individual and not a legal fiction. We do not hold individuals' fingerprints on record, so this does not, in reality, provide any form of additional proof of identity for us.

"If you [named officer of the council] do not do this then you will be personally liable for a fine/will be prosecuted for perjury/treason/some other offence"

Several letters we have received include outright threats to named officers (and sometimes threats addressed to anyone dealing with the matter in question) to the effect that, if the demands in the letter are not met, the person or persons in question will face fines or prosecution for a variety of improbable offences. There is no objective legal basis for making such threats or assertions of personal liability of officers carrying out their normal duties, and failure to agree to unreasonable and legally unjustifiable demands will never leave an individual officer liable to either civil or criminal sanctions. Making such threats against officers is wholly unacceptable. We will treat any such letters as vexatious and will not respond to them. If appropriate, we will report the matter to the Police as an offensive message, including under the Communications Act 2003.

Further advice

Please note that, following incorrect and misleading advice which recommends non-payment of Council Tax is likely to cause additional costs to be added to your Council Tax liability. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, you can contact us.

Further information is available on our Problems paying your Council Tax page and our Money Matters Advice Service pages.

Freedom of Information requests

South Lanarkshire Council will treat Freedom of Information requests raising issues such as those described as being vexatious in terms of section 14(1) of FOISA and they will be refused accordingly.

Council Tax collection and recovery

Further information on instalments, arrears and recovery methods, can be found on our collection and recovery stages page.