THE niceties of coughing up to pay council tax bills was raised at Bedale Town Council this week. Mayor Cllr Christine Mollard revealed she had been approached by a concerned taxpayer miffed that the due payment is demanded. Spectator can quite sympathise, onerous is definitely a word that could sum up the feelings of many in the face of the annual Council Tax Demand Notice.

It was pointed out that this is a legal term sprouting from the latest 1993 Local Government Finance Act, which replaced the highly controversial community charge, otherwise known as the poll tax. And as observed at the meeting by fellow councillors, if the council tax payment was requested and not demanded there’s a major danger it might not be paid.

In Bedale this year the charge is an average of £1,710 annually for a Band D property, five per cent higher than last year, including £55 demanded by the town council. And just in case the concerned taxpayer was considering ignoring the demands of the local authority, the repercussions are serious. Within seven days of not paying an instalment a reminder will be issued, followed by a final demand,. Eventually it’s a court summons with bailiffs potentially collecting on the debt and the ultimate sanction is three months in jail pondering the pros and cons of not paying up.

The reality is property taxes have been around for centuries, we can blame the first Elizabeth in 1601 for officially starting it off. Originally a poor rate was levied on property to fund the poor laws, and it all spiralled from there. It’s said only death and taxes are certain in life, OK it has to be paid but maybe the odd please and thank you would be good.