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Council Tax is used to help pay for services such as waste collection, street lighting and cleaning, and police and fire services. Read on to find out more about Council Tax and how to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to.
What is Council Tax?
Council Tax is an annual tax that your local council charges you and sets each year. The amount you pay depends on which valuation band your property is in, how much the council needs to fund its services, and your personal circumstances.
England and Scotland have eight Council Tax valuation bands ranging from A (the highest) to H. In Wales there are nine bands – from 1 (the highest) to 9. Northern Ireland still has domestic rates based on rental values rather than Council Tax.
Check your property’s valuation band
Did you know?
Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland are in the wrong Council Tax bands.
If your home has been put in a higher valuation band than it should be, you’re probably paying more Council Tax than you need to.
If you think this is happening to you, you can ask your council to re-value your property. Then, if you’ve been overcharged on your Council Tax, you may get a refund of the extra you’ve paid.
Before asking for a review, remember there’s always a chance your council might decide to put your property in a higher band as a result.
If you’re thinking of buying a new home, find out how much Council Tax you’d need to pay on it and work this into your overall budget.
If you are in England and Wales, check your Council Tax band on the Valuation Office Agency’s website .
If you are in Scotland, check your Council Tax band on the Scottish Assessor website .
Other ways to save money on your Council Tax
You could be entitled to a discount that will reduce your Council Tax bill if you’re:
- Single – If you’re the only adult in your household you’ll get 25% off your Council Tax bill. If you only share your home with young people in full-time education, live-in carers, or someone with a
severe mental disability, you may still qualify for this discount
- Disabled – If you or someone else in your household is disabled and you have to live in a larger property as a result, you might be entitled to a discount under the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme
- On a low income or suffering financial hardship – Your Council Tax bill may be reduced, depending on where you live
- Not living in your home – If your property has been empty and unfurnished for longer than six months, you may get a discount of between 10-50% depending on your council. And if your home’s empty because you’ve moved into a care home or hospital, you won’t have to pay any Council Tax at all
- Using the property as a furnished holiday home – Furnished holiday homes or other furnished properties that aren’t your main home qualify for a discount of around 10%
You may also be entitled to a reduction in Council Tax if:
- You are a victim of crime
- You are living in a hard-to-sell property
- Your property has been affected by fire or storms
- Your property has been flooded so you can’t live in it or use council services, or its value has been seriously affected by the flooding (England and Wales only)
How to apply for a reduction in Council Tax
To find out more about Council Tax discounts, including how to apply for them, go to the GOV.UK website .
If you want to claim a discount because you’ve been a victim of flooding, find out more at the Benefits Legal Group website .
Properties exempt from Council Tax
- Only occupied by full-time students or people under 18 – (If most but not all the occupiers are students or under 18 years of age, Council Tax still applies but normally at a reduced rate)
- Unoccupied following a death – Homes are exempt for six months after the death of the person who lived there
- Unoccupied and under repair – Properties undergoing major renovations are exempt for up to 12 months while the work is carried out
- Unoccupied and repossessed – If your home is repossessed by the mortgage lender you no longer have to pay this tax
- Armed forces accommodation – Homes provided for those in the service are exempt