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Freeman on the land - Council Tax legality

Council Tax is not a charge for individual services provided. It is a statutory tax on occupiers (and some owners) of homes in the council's area. The money collected goes into a central fund so the Council can provide services to benefit the borough as a whole. 

You cannot legally opt out of paying

The 'Freeman on the land' movement and similar groups believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. This is not true - you cannot choose which laws to obey and which to ignore. Being a 'freeman' does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax.

Some people believe that using an archaic law means they don't have to pay Council Tax - there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet about the legality of Council Tax. You should seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.

There is no contract involved

Some residents believe that to be liable for Council Tax, there needs to be a signed legal contract agreeing to this. This is not true. In the UK, liability for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This sets out a council's rights to demand Council Tax to fund services and who is liable to pay. Individual agreement of this is not necessary. Any reference to the Companies Act, Contracts Act, Bills of Exchange Act or other acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant. 

Sending out the bill creates the debt

As soon as the Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) is sent, the debt is created. There is no need for a signature or agreement from the resident.

If you do not pay, we will take action to recover the debt

Steps we take to recover unpaid Council Tax

In extreme cases this could lead to committal proceedings, or even a prison sentence, as in the Manchester Magistrates' court vs McKenzie (2015) case, where an individual who attempted to use 'freeman on the land' defences in court ended up in prison for 40 days. 

If you have any concerns over the charging of Council Tax, please seek proper legal advice rather than relying on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.

We do not need consent to collect unpaid Council Tax charges.

Council Tax legislation 

You can find the laws that cover Council Tax on the government website (opens new window). These include:

Acts and statutes

Acts of Parliament are statutes which set out the law. You can read more about Acts of Parliament on the UK Parliament website (opens new window).


We do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax. However, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to long queries focusing on hypothetical arguments with no basis in the law.