The legal requirement to impose and collect Council Tax
The legislation under which West Dunbartonshire Council is obliged to levy and collect Council Tax is freely available at legislation.gov.uk and is:
West Dunbartonshire Council as a Local Authority has a statutory obligation to bill and collect the Council Tax.
Once liability of the Council Tax has been determined, persons liable to pay Council Tax do not have the choice to "opt out" of paying the Council Tax. The Council will bill and collect the Council Tax as determined. Furthermore, the Council does not require agreement from persons liable to pay Council Tax prior to the issue and collection of the Council Tax.
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 serve to avoid your liability to pay the charge, and will only add costs to the amount you have to pay. Refusal to pay will result in the Council taking action to recover outstanding sums, including through the courts. Before you rely on the information circulated by these groups, read the information on this page and if necessary take independent legal advice from a solicitor or an official organisation.
The examples below are some of the statements that are frequently made by these groups in order to support their stance of 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 to be a Sovereign Citizen (or equivalent) does not exempt you from paying Council Tax. The liability of a person to pay Council Tax is determined by the legislation we have referred to above.
The arguments that Sovereign Citizens do not have to pay Council Tax (or are exempt from other laws) have been determined by the Courts in various countries around the world and found to be invalid.
I do not give my consent to hold and process my personal data
The Council does not require the consent of those required to pay Council Tax, and it is entitled to hold and process the personal data of such persons in order to discharge its statutory duties in terms of Article 6.1(c) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation without the consent of those persons. Indeed, 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 to processing of personal data for council tax purposes.
You can find details of how we process your data on our Your privacy page along with a specific information on "consent" for data protection purposes and choosing to take up the offer of a service which the council provide on our Privacy Notice.
West Dunbartonshire Council is registered under D-U-N-S and appears to be a not for profit company that is unable to demand Council Tax
West Dunbartonshire Council is a council established by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 and is not a company formed under the Companies Acts.
West Dunbartonshire Council is required to establish a contract with me in order to collect Council Tax
Council Tax is a tax imposed upon persons who are liable to pay it under the authority of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. It is not a contract and therefore 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, and not a receipt for services.
West Dunbartonshire Council has not followed the correct procedure to collect Council Tax
Both the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) (Scotland) Regulations 1992 as amended provide the statutory basis for the issue of Council Tax notices and Council Tax collection is predominantly governed by this legislation.
The Council is compelled by law to collect Council Tax as detailed on the most recently issued demand notice. Where payment is not received in accordance with the instalment profile as detailed in the annual bill, the Council is required to issue statutory documentation advising the charge-payer of the arrears position. It also advises of any subsequent action should there be a failure to comply with the follow-up notice.
If Council Tax still remains unpaid, the Council will apply to the Sheriff Court for a Summary Warrant against the person liable to pay Council Tax. 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 because, as noted on the Summary Warrants themselves, "This document has been electronically authenticated and requires no wet signature."
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 and indeed we would be in breach of the VAT regulations if we did so. There is similarly 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 do indeed 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 indeed 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"
A number of 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 however report the matter to the Police as an offensive message, including under the Communications Act 2003.
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. You can get independent free advice about what to do if you are unable to pay your Council Tax from:
West Dunbartonshire Council will not respond to Freedom of Information requests raising these issues or engage in correspondence regarding this.