Council tax frequently asked questions
What is council tax
Council tax is an important part of the financing of Local Government and other local services. The money raised by council tax is used to make up the difference between the funding supplied by Central government and the money required by Plymouth City Council to supply all of the services needed by the inhabitants of Plymouth. It was brought into effect on the 1 April 1993 and replaced the community charge system.
Why do I have to pay council tax?
The council tax is paid by every occupier or owners of a domestic property (houses, flats etc). It is a contribution towards the cost of services provided by Plymouth City Council, Devon and Cornwall Police Authority and Devon Fire Brigade. Plymouth collects all the charges and then passes the required amounts to the other organisations.
Who is liable to pay council tax?
The owner will normally be liable if they live in the property or if they leave the property empty. If they do not live in the property and let it out or other people live there, the tenants or those living there will be liable. If the property is a multi-occupied rented property the owner will be liable.
How is my council tax calculated?
Your council tax is worked out according to the valuation bands which are based on the estimated value of the property on 1 April 1991. There are eight council tax bands - A through to H - and each band has a level of council tax set for it.
Can I get help to pay my council tax?
Depending on your income and family circumstances, you may be entitled to help with your council tax in the form of council tax support. When awarded this support reduces your council tax bill. If you are struggling to pay your council tax bill telephone 01752 304924 and we will be able to discuss payment plans.
When should I pay?
Your council tax bill will show how much you need to pay and when you need to make the payments. You can change how often you pay, for example, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Direct Debit payments can be made on 1st or 15th of each month and can be over 10 or 12 months. You can request to pay by Direct Debit, using Self Service or by telephone on 01752 304924.
I can't afford to pay, what can I do?
If you are struggling to pay your council tax bill, telephone 01752 304924 and we will be able to discuss payment plans. If you are on a low income you can apply for council tax support. If you have difficulty paying, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss payment options, but pay what you can.
What will happen if I do not pay on time?
You will be sent a reminder. If you do not bring your account up to date or you keep paying late you will be sent a court summons for the whole year’s bill and Ј60 costs will be added to your account. This means we are able to obtain a Liability Order and this allows us to take further recovery action such as Attachments to income and referral to Enforcement Agents.
What are the direct debit options?
We can offer two payment dates, 1st or 15th of each month. If at the beginning of the financial year you choose to pay on 1st of the month we can set up instalments of 10 or 11 months. If you choose to pay on 15th of each month we can extend this to 12 months. Payment plans set up part way through the year will mean you are given less instalments.
Can I still use my old payment card?
Yes, as long as you still live in Plymouth. The name of the council tax payer(s) and account number are printed on the card. The electronic strip also contains the name(s) and account number but not how much has to be paid. There is no charge for using the card and it can be used at any Post Office, Pay Point, Housing branch office and the Civic Centre cash office. The card cannot be used at banks. You can use this card to pay arrears as long as the card has the right account number on it. Check this against the bill you want to pay. You will also need to know how much you have to pay this will also be shown on the same bill. You are not able to mix payments for arrears with current instalments; ask for the card to be swiped twice. Pay the amount due for your current instalment with one swipe and then pay the arrears with the other swipe. If you pay both amounts together and the card is only swiped once both amounts will be paid towards your arrears and the Council will think you have fallen behind with your current instalments.
How do I know what to pay?
You will still be sent a council tax bill which will detail what you need to pay and when. If you have not received your bill, please use Self Service to request a copy.
I pay by standing order, do I need
to complete a new form?
You will need to complete a new standing order form, and return it to your bank, whenever you receive a new bill. If your bank provides internet or telephone banking you may be able to set up a standing order without completing a form.
You must also quote your 8 digit Council Tax payment reference.
Who determines what the band of my property should be?
The Listing Officer, Valuation Office, 190 Armada Way, Plymouth PL1 1EG determines what the value of a property is for Rating purposes. He is completely independent from Plymouth City Council and can be contacted on 01752 614100. It is his responsibility to ensure that the council tax band list is kept accurate and up to date. For further information visit the Valuation Office Agency website. This site also contains information on how to appeal if you think your property Valuation Band is wrong.
What is the council tax band list?
Every council has a list, compiled by the Valuation Office, that shows the value of all domestic properties in its area and their given band, this is called the council tax valuation list. The properties are listed in alphabetical street order within postal areas and every property has its own reference number.
Can I see the council tax band list?
The council tax band (valuation) list is a public document and can be seen at the Valuation Office Agency website. A hard copy is also held within the Revenues section at the Civic Centre.
Can I appeal against the band my property is in?
Yes, but there are time limits. Information on making an appeal can be found on the Valuation Office Agency website or by writing to the Listing Office, Valuation Office Agency, 190 Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 1EG. telephone 01752 614100 or by emailing the Listing Officer .
I have appealed against the band of my property. Do I still have to pay?
Yes. council tax is payable on the basis of the band currently appearing in the list and you remain liable to pay the amount you have been billed until the property's band value is altered. If the value is reduced, any overpayment will be refunded or credited against a future bill.
Why is my next-door neighbours band different to mine?
If the properties are identical, they should be in the same band, but if there are differences, for example one of them has an extension this could account for the difference. The ranges of values in the bands are quite wide and these are shown on the council tax band page. If you believe the band of your property is wrong you may appeal against it to the Listing Officer at the Valuation Office. Information on making an appeal can be found on the Valuation Office Agency website.
My rent includes my council tax, so why have I received a bill?
In most cases the occupier of a property is liable to pay the council tax. If you have a query please contact us on 01752 304924 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
My property is empty or soon will be empty, do I still have to pay anything?
Reduced charges can be claimed in certain instances, for example when a property is completely vacated and all furniture and effects removed, a charge free period of up to one month is available. This will end before the one month is up if the property is occupied or furnished. After the one month, a charge of 100 per cent will become payable even if the property remains unfurnished.
Can I have my bill reduced?
There are various ways a reduction may be obtained.
You may be entitled to a discount or exemption depending on your circumstances. If the query relates to the Band of your property, visit the Valuation Office Agency for further information.
If you are struggling to pay your council tax bill telephone 01752 304924 and we will be able to discuss payment plans. If you are on a low income you can apply for council tax support. If you have difficulty paying, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss payment options, but pay what you can.
What happens if I no longer own or rent the property?
If you sell your home or move from a rented property you need to tell us when this happens. See your bill for contact details or the council tax page for further information. You can also notify us by completing the online change of address form. We will need to know the following:
- the date you vacated the premises
- the date the premises were sold or the lease expired
- your forwarding address for correspondence
- details of the new owner or leaseholder
- landlord or agents details if you were renting
What happens if my home is repossessed?
If you are concerned that your home might be repossessed Plymouth City Council can help you with advice about your housing options. For advice please contact the Housing Advice Service:
- in person at Midland House, Notte Street, Plymouth PL1 2EJ
- by telephone on 01752 305950
- by email at email@example.com