Islington Council demand £3.50 Council Tax from grieving son because she died before midnight

Terry Comer Pic: Dieter Perry

Terry Comer Pic: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

A grieving son was furious after Islington Council sent a £3.50 tax bill for the day his mother died – because she passed away before midnight.

Cecilia Comer, who was 92 when she died on March 11, was exempt from Council Tax – as was her son Terry as her registered carer at their home in Canonbury Park North.

Following her death, Mr Comer will now have to pay the full amount of Council Tax.

But the council insisted he also had to pay £3.50 to cover the day of his mother’s death – because she died at 5am and therefore did not live long enough into the day to be exempt.

Officials sent two letters demanding the cash – one of which arrived the day after her funeral last Thursday.

Mr Comer offered to pay the amount of Council Tax he owes in full, minus the £3.50 for the day of his mother’s death.

He told the council he would rather go to court than pay up.

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Mr Comer said: “It’s ridiculous and insensitive. Before her funeral I got a letter addressed to the executor of the will asking for Council Tax from March 11.

“I phoned up saying that it couldn’t be right as she was alive that day but they told me it was.

“Then I got another, so I called and asked to speak to the head of department. She asked me what time mum died, so I told her. She said Council Tax was payable from that day, because she died before midnight.

“It’s disgusting and I couldn’t believe it. I am sure this must have happened to lots of other people. I am sure they are correct legally, but morally it’s completely reprehensible.”

After the Gazette contacted the council, it agreed to change the policy. Cllr Richard Greening, Islington Council’s executive member for finance said: “I am grateful to Mr Comer for raising this issue and agree with him that the council’s procedures are not right. I have instructed officers to change the billing procedure from now on and we will be writing to Mr Comer to correct his bill and apologise for any upset caused.”

In 2011, Islington Council apologised for a similar situation when a bereaved daughter received letters trying to recoup her late father’s benefits within days of his sudden death.