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Council Tax Explained….

Posted on September 8th, 2022

Working out your Council Tax

You’ll need to know 3 things:

You may be able to get Council Tax Reduction (this used to be called Council Tax Benefit) if you’re on a low income or get benefits.

You can challenge your Council Tax band if you think your home is in the wrong valuation band.

Changes that may affect your Council Tax band

Your property may be put in a different band in some circumstances, for example if:

  • you demolish part of your property and do not rebuild it
  • you alter your property to create 2 or more self-contained units, for example an annexe – each unit will have its own band
  • you split a single property into self-contained flats
  • you convert flats into a single property
  • you start or stop working from home
  • the previous owner made changes to your property
  • there are significant changes to your local area, like a new road being built
  • a similar property in your area has its Council Tax band changed

Ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) if you want to know if changes to your property will affect your Council Tax band.

Who has to pay

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax if you’re 18 or over.

A full Council Tax bill is based on at least 2 adults living in a home. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill.

Who is not counted (‘disregarded’)

Some people are not counted (‘disregarded’) when working out how many people live in a property. This means you might be able to apply for a discount on your Council Tax bill if you get one.

You’re disregarded if you’re:

  • under 18 years old
  • on certain apprentice schemes
  • 18 or 19 years old and in full-time education
  • a full-time student at college or university
  • under 25 years old and get funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
  • a student nurse
  • a foreign language assistant registered with the British Council
  • severely mentally impaired
  • a live-in carer for someone who is not your partner, spouse, or child under 18
  • a diplomat

Apply for a discount or exemption

You need to apply for a Council Tax discount or an exemption, even if you’re disregarded.

You’ll get 50% off your bill if everyone living in your household is disregarded.

You’ll get 25% off your bill if you pay Council Tax and either:

  • you live on your own
  • everyone else in your home is disregarded

Contact your local council if you’re unsure about whether you can get a discount or who’s responsible for paying.

People on apprentice schemes

To show that you do not qualify as an adult for Council Tax, you’ll need a declaration from your employer stating that:

  • you will not be paid more than £195 a week
  • the training leads to a qualification accredited by a body recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) or the Scottish Vocational Education Council (SVEC)

If you get a Council Tax discount by mistake

You must contact your local council. If you do not, you could get a fine.

The council may ask you to pay back the discount.

Discounts for full-time students

Households where everyone’s a full-time student do not have to pay Council Tax. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption.

To count as a full-time student, your course must:

  • last at least 1 year
  • involve at least 21 hours study per week

If you study for a qualification up to A level and you’re under 20, your course must:

  • last at least 3 months
  • involve at least 12 hours study per week

You’ll get a Council Tax bill if there’s someone in your household who’s not a full-time student, but your household might still qualify for a discount.

Discounts for disabled people

You might be able to apply for a Council Tax discount or exemption if you or someone you live with is disabled.

Disabled Band Reduction Scheme

You may be eligible for the scheme if you live in a larger property than you would need if you or another occupant were not disabled.

If you qualify, your bill will be reduced to the next lowest Council Tax band. For example, if your property is in Band D, you’ll pay the Band C rate. If your home is already in the lowest band (Band A), you’ll get a 17% discount on your Council Tax bill instead.

You’ll have to show that you have either:

  • an extra bathroom, kitchen or other room that you need for the disabled person
  • extra space inside the property for using a wheelchair

The property must be the main home of at least 1 disabled person. This can be an adult or a child – it does not have to be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax.

How to apply

Check if you qualify for the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme.

Discounts for severely mentally impaired people

You might be able to apply for a discount on your Council Tax bill if you or someone you live with is severely mentally impaired.

You’ll need to:

  • get a certificate to say you’re severely mentally impaired from a medical professional, such as your GP
  • prove your eligibility for certain benefits – check with your local council

If you qualify as severely mentally impaired

You’ll get a 100% discount if you qualify as severely mentally impaired and one of the following applies:

  • you live on your own
  • any other adults in your household either qualify as severely mentally impaired or are full-time students

There’ll be a 50% discount on the council tax bill if everyone else in your household is ‘disregarded’.

If you live with someone who is severely mentally impaired

You’ll get a 25% discount if you live with someone who qualifies as severely mentally impaired and either:

  • there are no other adults in your household
  • everyone else in your home is disregarded

Second homes and empty properties

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax on a property you own or rent that’s not your main home, such as holiday homes.

Your council can decide to give you a discount – it’s up to them how much you can get. Contact your council to ask about a discount.

Empty properties

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax on an empty home, but your council can decide to give you a discount – the amount is up to them. Contact your council to ask about a discount.

If your home has been empty for 2 years or more

You can be charged an extra amount of Council Tax (a ‘premium’) if your home has been empty for 2 years or more.

How much you pay will depend on how long the property has been empty. You can be charged up to 4 times your normal Council Tax bill if your home has been empty for 10 years or more.

You will not have to pay the empty home premium if either:

  • the empty property is an annex
  • you’re in the armed forces and you have to move into armed forces accommodation as part of your work

The rules are different in Scotland.

When you do not pay Council Tax

If you’re selling a property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you do not need to pay Council Tax until after you get probate as long as the property remains empty. After probate is granted, you may be able to get a Council Tax exemption for another 6 months if the property is both:

  • unoccupied
  • still owned and in the name of the person who died

Some homes do not get a Council Tax bill for as long as they stay empty. They include homes:

  • of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • of someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital
  • that have been repossessed
  • that cannot be lived in by law, for example if they’re derelict
  • that are empty because they’ve been compulsory purchased and will be demolished

You may get a discount if your home is undergoing major repair work or structural changes, for example your walls are being rebuilt.

If your property’s been refurbished

Your council will tell you when you have to start paying Council Tax if you’ve been carrying out major home improvements on an empty property or building a new property.

You’ll get a ‘completion notice’ that tells you the date you must start paying Council Tax.

If your property’s derelict

Your property’s only considered derelict if it:

  • is not possible to live in it, for example because it’s been damaged by weather, rot or vandalism
  • would need major structural works to make it ‘wind and watertight’ again

You can challenge your Council Tax band if you think a derelict property should be removed from the Council Tax valuation list.

Paying your bill

Your Council Tax bill tells you:

  • how much you have to pay for the year
  • how that amount has been worked out
  • the dates you have to pay

The cost is usually split into 10 monthly payments. Contact your local council immediately if you’re having trouble paying – they can help you, for example by spreading your payments over 12 months instead of 10.

The council can take action to reclaim any debts you owe if you get behind with your payments.

Ways to pay

You can usually pay your Council Tax online.

You can also use ‘Paypoint’, ‘Payzone’ or ‘Quickcards’ for cash payments at post offices, banks, newsagents and convenience stores.

Check your bill to find out which other payment methods you can use.

If you’ve overpaid

Contact your local council if you’ve paid too much Council Tax and have not received an automatic refund.

Get the Council Tax rebate

Local councils in England are paying £150 to households in Council Tax band A to D.

Most people have now been paid.

Who can get it

You get £150 per household if you paid Council Tax on your main home on 1 April 2022 and it’s in Council Tax band A, B, C or D. Check your Council Tax band.

Some households who do not have to pay Council Tax can still get the £150. This includes:

  • students
  • under 18s
  • people with a severe mental impairment
  • anyone with an annexe where a dependent relative is living

If you receive Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Local Council Tax Support) or a Council Tax discount, you will also get the rebate.

When you’ll get the money

Councils started making payments in April 2022 and will be paying the rebate until 30 September 2022.

How the money will be paid

If you pay by Direct Debit, most councils will pay the £150 directly into your bank account.

If you do not pay your Council Tax bill by Direct Debit, you may need to make a claim. If you have not been told how to do this, contact your local council.

Some councils will credit your Council Tax account or give you vouchers.

If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales

Help with Council Tax payments is also available in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Contact your local council or check their website for more information.

Get more help with your Council Tax bill

Your local council may be able to give you more money, even if you’ve already been paid the £150. Contact your local council for more information.



For more information see; How Council Tax works: Working out your Council Tax – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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