Freeman on the land and council tax legality

Council Tax is a statutory tax on occupiers, and some owners, of homes in the council's area. It is not a charge for individual services provided. The amount of money we collect from council tax goes into a central fund. This is so we can provide services to benefit the whole Newcastle City Council area. 

You cannot opt out of paying council tax

'Freeman on the land' and similar groups believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. You do not have a choice whether you are liable for council tax. And you cannot choose which laws to obey and which to ignore. Being a 'freeman' does not exempt anyone from paying council tax.

There are many misleading articles and templates on the internet. They provide false information about the legality of council tax. Some people believe that using very old fashioned laws means they don't have to pay council tax. This is not true. You should seek proper legal advice before using them. You can not use them as a defence against council tax liability based on contract, consent and common law. 

There is no contract involved 

You do not need to have a signed legal contract agreeing to be liable for council tax. In the UK, the Local Government Finance Act 1992 determines council tax liability. This sets out a council's rights to demand payment of council tax. It enables us to fund services, calculate council tax charges and determine who is liable. Individual agreement to pay council tax is not necessary. Any reference to the following are irrelevant:

  • Companies Act,
  • Contracts Act,
  • Bills of Exchange Act,
  • or other acts of companies or contracts. 

Your council tax bill

As soon as we issue a council tax bill (demand notice), we create the debt. There is no need for a signature or agreement from the person responsible to pay council tax. So it is important that you check your bill as soon as you receive it. This is to ensure that you are paying the correct amount. You need to check that any reductions, discounts, disregards or exemptions are shown on the bill.

Check you are paying the correct amount

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

In extreme cases of non payment of council tax, individuals could go to prison. In the Manchester Magistrates' court vs McKenzie (2015) case, an individual attempted to use 'freeman on the land' defences. This individual was sentenced to prison for 40 days. 

If you have any concerns over the charging of council tax, please seek proper legal advice. Do not rely on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.

We do not need consent to collect unpaid council tax charges.

For more information on our recovery processes click on the link below. There is also help available if you are struggling with financial difficulties.

Trouble paying your council tax

Council tax legislation 

You can find the laws that cover council tax on the government website.

These include:

Acts and statutes

Acts of Parliament are statutes which set out the law. You can read more about Acts of Parliament below.

UK Parliament website.


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.