Councillors will have to write off debts of more than £8m owed to Kirklees Council.
But the message to those who have not paid up was: We will still come after you.
Council leader Mehboob Khan said the authority would not hesitate to force non-payers into bankruptcy or to seize assets if they refused to pay.
Confirmation that a total of £8.1m of debt was written off by Kirklees Council in the 2012/13 financial year will be made by the Cabinet.
The sum represents 2.1% of what the organisation aimed to collect.
A report to Cabinet details that the debts across council services are due to a variety of reasons including bankruptcy and liquidation, death, and debts being written off on compassionate grounds.
The figure includes non-domestic rate debts of £3.9m which were collected on behalf of the government and would not impact on the council’s finances.
Clr Khan said: “People should not think these people in debt are getting away with it.
“Writing off the debt is a technical issue to do with the accounts and I can promise people who do pay that the council will do all they can to continue to pursue those who owe money.
“I recall when I first joined the council in 1996 we were still chasing up poll tax debtors from 10 years earlier.
“We will not stop pursuing those who do not pay and we will use all the powers we can, including taking people into bankruptcy and seizing any assets.
“There are people with genuine hardship problems and I would urge them to come and talk to us. If they are in debt to Kirklees Council, they are possibly in debt to others such as power companies.
“We want to make sure everyone pays a fair share to society”.
Housing benefit overpayment recovery has accounted for a relatively high percentage of written off debt in the Kirklees Customer and Exchequer service because the households affected are the least likely to be able to pay and this has to be a consideration in whatever recovery action takes place.
A rise in written off debts in the Housing Revenue Account is attributed to a review of historic rechargeable repairs debts.
Clr David Sheard, Joint Cabinet member for Resources, said: “The council will seek to collect as much outstanding debt as possible as it is in the interests of local taxpayers that the council is run efficiently and cost effectively.
“However, on occasions debts are written off because of bankruptcy, the death of the debtor or on compassionate grounds but in all cases outstanding amounts may be pursued in the future if new information comes to light.”
WHO OWES WHAT
The biggest debt being written off is £3,913,827 in non-domestic rates (£2,326,119 in 2012)
Unpaid council taxes amounted to £1,637,211 (£2,135,173 in 2012)
Housing revenues unpaid totalled 2,048,076 (£894,875 in 2012).
The total written off in 2013 is £8,062,817 ( £5,892,045 in 2012).