'Freeman on the land' and challenges to the payment of Council Tax
Over the past months the Council has seen the number of queries and questions about 'Freeman on the Land' rise and therefore we wish to clearly explain the position on this subject.
Freeman on the Land movement and similar groups believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. However, contract law and alleged rights under common law are not the same as legislation relating to the administration, enforcement and collection of Council Tax.
The position in law is that you do not have a choice as to whether you are liable for Council Tax and styling yourself a 'Freeman of the Land' does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax.
Who is liable for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992 ("The Act") and the Regulations made under it. This statute was created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown and the Act and subsequent statutory regulations set out a Local Authority's rights to levy and collect Council Tax to fund its services.
The liability for Council Tax is not dependent on, and does not require, consent or the existence of a contractual relationship with the Council. Any such assertion to the contrary is incorrect and there is no legal basis upon which to make this argument.
Any liable person who withholds payment will have enforcement action taken against them.
In extreme cases this could lead to a prison sentence. The Courts considered and ruled in the Manchester Magistrates Court v McKenzie (2015) case where a 'freeman on the land' defences were dismissed and the individual was imprisoned for 40 days.
If you have any concerns over the billing or charging of Council Tax, please seek independent legal advice. Do not rely on internet sources, hearsay or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.
On occasion some people convince themselves that using an old law means they don't have to pay Council Tax. Unfortunately, there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax.
The legislation that covers Council Tax is freely available from the Government website www.legislation.gov.uk, including:
Local Government Finance Act 1992
Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011
Whilst the Council Tax team will do their best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy spurious enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute and which use our resources at the expense of other taxpayers.
Last updated 19 December 2022
Some common questions (FAQs) and additional information
Q. Provide an autographed lawful contract with you, with both of our autographs.
A. Some residents consider that Council Tax is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement. As explained above, Council Tax was created by statute, and a contract is not required. Therefore, any reference to the Companies Act, Contracts Act, Bills of Exchange Act or other Acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant.
Q. Please provide evidence that I've agreed with you that you can lawfully collect an alleged debt from me. A. Neither is required for the levy and collection of Council Tax.
Q. Provide evidence that I am lawfully obliged to pay Council Tax.
A. The hierarchy of who is considered to be the liable party is contained in the Local Government Finance Act 1992 Part 1, Chapter 1, Sections 6 - 9.
Q. Provide evidence that you have the lawful and contractual authority to use the legal fictional name of "XXX" for the purposes of making money.
A. Whether a name is legal or fictional is irrelevant for the purposes of Council Tax. Council Tax is charged and is payable by whomever is the liable party, which is determined by reference to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
Q. Provide confirmation the debt exists lawfully.
A. The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for Council Tax liability; it is a tax, not a contract.
Q. Provide documents containing a wet ink signature.
A. As covered above, a signature is not necessary for the billing of Council Tax and no wet ink signature is mandatory on a Court Summons. Case law has clarified that the use of a rubber stamp or electronic signature are both valid for the purpose of the Court signing a Summons.
Q. I'm a Freeman on the Land and am not liable.
A. Being a Freeman on the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore.
Q. Please send us your VAT details/provide a VAT invoice.
A. Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and therefore no VAT invoice is required.
Q. Please state whether you are a company or a corporation.
A. West Berkshire Council is a Local Authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.