Ombudsman sides with Rotherham Council over tax reminder text

THE local government ombudsman has refused to investigate a resident’s complaint about an ‘offensive and alienating’ council tax reminder.

The resident – named only as Mr X – complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about Rotherham Council’s text message arriving after he had paid up.

Mr X complained in August that RMBC’s reminder regarding late payment had led to “confusion and distress”.

The complainant wanted the council to amend the wording of the message reminder to be “less offensive and alienating” – but the ombudsman decided not to investigate as there was “not enough evidence of fault or injustice”.

Investigators stated that Mr X paid his council tax three days late, and received a text the following day, reminding him that his council tax was overdue and further action may be taken if the payment was not received.

When Mr X complained to RMBC, the council confirmed that because of the time it took to process payments, the information was up to date when the text was sent, and that it was his third late payment “in recent months”.

The ombudsman’s investigator concluded: “It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to ensure they pay their council tax by the instalment due date.

“If this does not happen the regulations permit councils to issue reminders and a final notice.

“There is no evidence of fault in the council’s use of the text message service to justify an investigation.”