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Council Tax - frequently asked questions (FAQs)

how do i find out how much council tax is

Got a question about your annual Council Tax bill for April 2015 to March 2016?

Popular questions about Council Tax

Please browse our frequently asked questions below.

If you can't find an answer to your question on our web pages please contact the Council Tax team.

What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a domestic property tax collected by local councils.  It helps to pay for local services such as schools, rubbish collection, roads and street lighting. Download a copy of the budget summary and Council Tax rates 2015/16 (PDF 233kb).

How much do I have to pay?

I live alone, how do I claim my 25% discount?

If you are the only adult resident in your household (aged 18 or over), you are entitled to a 25% reduction to your Council Tax bill. Sometimes other adults you live with are not counted when adding up the number of residents. See 'discounts for people who aren't counted ' for more information.

I am a student, am I exempt from Council Tax?

Council Tax bills are charged to households or 'dwellings', not individuals. If your household has some full-time students, the household may be eligible for a Council Tax discount. If everyone in your household is a full-time student, the household may be eligible for complete exemption from Council Tax. Full time = at least 21 hours per week for 24 weeks in any single academic or calendar year.

For more information, download our leaflet about  Students and Council Tax [PDF 159kb].

If you’d like to apply for a student discount or exemption for your household, please use the online form below. You'll need to provide the details of everyone in the household, including those who aren't full-time students.

The people I share with are students but I am not, do I have to pay?

Where there are non-students in the property,  Council Tax will be payable. The full charge is due if there are two or more non-students. A 25% discount is applied where there is only one. Normally only the non-students will be liable for the charge and named on the bill, however there are some exceptions to this. For more information ring 01273 291291.

Do I have to pay the full Council Tax for a second home?

Council Tax discounts are no longer available for second homes. You are required to pay the full Council Tax charge for your second home.

When are long-term empty property premium charges added to Council Tax bills?

You will be set an additional amount of Council Tax (a "premium") to be paid if your property has been empty for more than two years (unless it’s an annexe or you’re in the armed forces). The long term empty property premium is set at 50%, meaning that once your property has been empty for more than two years, you will have to pay the whole Council Tax bill, plus half on top again.

These charges were introduced following new powers given to local authorities to set premiums from April 2013.  In Brighton & Hove, these charges are set in line with the council's objectives of maximising the accommodation available and reducing the number of long term empty properties in the city.

I am not living at my property because it is being renovated. Can I claim a discount?

After April 2015 there is no discount available for properties that are empty and undergoing major repairs or structural alterations. See our web page on the uninhabitable property discount .

How can I find out the Council Tax band for a property?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for setting Council Tax bands. You can find your property's Council Tax band on the website  or by calling the Valuation Office Agency  on 03000 501501. You can also  contact the Council Tax team  to find out which band a property is in, or visit the council's customer service centre  in Bartholomew House where

you can use the self-help computers to look up Council Tax bands.

How are Council Tax bands worked out?

The Council Tax band of a property is based on the Valuation Office Agency’s  assessment of the property's market value as at 1 April 1991.

I think my property is in the wrong Council Tax band – how can I get the band reviewed?

You can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to check your band if you think your home was banded incorrectly.  You can call the VOA on 03000 501501 or write to:  The Listing Officer, Council Tax South, Valuation Office Agency, Second Floor, 1 Francis Grove, Wimbledon, London, SW19 4DT.  The   website   provides further information on challenging your Council Tax band assessment .  You should continue to pay your Council Tax bill whilst Council Tax band queries are looked into.

How do I pay my Council Tax and can I pay in instalments?

The annual Council Tax charge is usually due by the 1st of each month, over ten monthly instalments from April to January. However, If you pay by direct debit. or contact us to discuss your payments, we may be able to offer more flexibility on the dates and length of your instalment plan. For details of your own instalment plan, please refer to the bottom of the front page of your council tax bill. Information about your bill and other payment methods can be found on our Council Tax bills and ways to pay page. They are also listed on the reverse of your bill.

I work from home, will this affect my Council Tax?

The effect on your Council Tax will depend on if you have adapted part of your home for business use and/or how that area is used outside business hours. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) provides more information, examples and a factsheet on their website: VOA - Working from Home .

Can I get help with my Council Tax if I am unemployed or on a low income?

If you are on a low income or unemployed you may be eligible for help with your council tax. Help may also be available with your rent.  You can use our online claim calculator to apply for help with your Council Tax - or just check to see if you’ll qualify  or see our benefits service web pages  for more information and who to contact for assistance.

I am moving house, what do I need to do?

This includes if:

  • you're leaving Brighton & Hove
  • you're moving into Brighton & Hove
  • you're moving within Brighton & Hove.

I have moved and think I have paid too much on my old account. Can I get a refund?

Any credit or debit left on your previous account will show on your closing bill. If you have moved within the Brighton & Hove area, any credit may have been transferred to your new account. If the credit cannot be transferred, a refund can be requested by contacting us  quoting the relevant account number.

What happens if I don't pay my Council Tax?

Failure to pay your Council Tax or regularly missing instalments will lead to recovery action being taken against you. For details of the recovery process and what options are available to the council if you fail to pay or fail to respond to communications please see our recovery action web page.  If you have financial problems, please see our guidance for dealing with difficulties paying your bill  as early as possible to avoid recovery action

How can I find out the balance on my account and can I do it online?

At present, we cannot show you your account online. To find out your current balance ring 01273 291291 or email You will need to quote your account number.

What standard of service should I expect from the Council Tax office?

Category: Taxes

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