Unpaid council tax has left Wakefield Council short of nearly £17m.
New government figures have revealed the shocking extent of uncollected tax, just months after the council announced deep service cuts it claimed were needed to save £46m over two years.
The money the council is owed works out at £121 per household, the fourth highest of 21 Yorkshire councils.
And communities secretary Eric Pickles said councils needed to “get a grip” of tax evasion in order to protect services.
He said: “Councils across Yorkshire are losing £200m of taxpayers’ money through neglect. Getting a grip on such tax evasion would help pay off the Labour government’s deficit, protect frontline services and keep council tax down.”
Council tax increased by 1.45 per cent this year, in a budget which included 120 job cuts, library closures and cuts to enforcement, adult social care and children’s services.
Coun Graham Stokes, cabinet member for corporate Performance, said: “We take council tax collection very seriously but also help people to make affordable payments.
“We do not write debts off readily, as we are aware that people’s circumstances may change, so just because they’ve not made payments on time doesn’t mean they can’t do so in the future. The arrears figures need to be taken in the context of us helping people by giving them longer to pay if necessary.”
People who need help paying council tax should call 0845 8 504 504.