Council tax is a system of taxation collected by local authorities. Generally, the bigger the property is, the more tax will be charged. Some properties will be exempt from council tax. Each property is given a banding depending on size and location. In England, the bands go from ‘A’ to ‘H’ with ‘A’ being the cheapest band. The tax is calculated based on the property’s value at April 1991 as shown in the following table.
||Up to £40,000
||Over £40,000 AND UP TO £52,000
||Over £52,000 AND UP TO £68,000
||Over £68,000 AND UP TO £88,000
||Over £88,000 AND UP TO £120,000
||Over £120,000 AND UP TO £160,000
||Over £160,000 AND UP TO £320,000
Council tax bands are slightly different in Scotland and Wales and can be accessed using the links.
Charges and discounts
Basic – Your local council sets a rate for council tax based on the band.
Single person – If only one person lives in a property they will get a 25% discount on the bill.
Disregarded people – When working out how many people live in a property, some people are not counted. These are called disregarded people. If everyone who lives in the property is disregarded, there will still be a council tax bill, but there will be a 50% discount. Disregarded people include:-
• Aged 17 or under.
• Living in the property temporarily and who have their home somewhere else.
• Defined as a severely mentally impaired person.
• Full-time students on a qualifying course of education.
• A spouse or a dependant of a student and a non British Citizen who is not allowed under immigration rules, either to work in the UK or claim benefits.
• Student nurses/Project 2000 student nurses.
• Young people on government training schemes, apprentices, or foreign language assistants.
• Hospital patients who live in hospital.
• Care workers.
• School or college leavers still aged under 20 who have left school or college after 30 April. They will be disregarded until 1 November of the same year whether or not they take up employment.
• Aged 18 and someone is entitled to child benefit for them. This includes a school or college leaver in remunerative work, or a person in local authority care.
• Members of a religious community.
If you believe that you are entitled to a discount and your bill does not show that you have had one, you should apply to the local authority for a discount, as soon as possible. If the bill shows that the local authority has applied a discount and you do not think that you should have one, you must tell the local authority within 21 days. If you do not do this, the local authority may later impose a penalty.
How to pay council tax
Inform your local council as soon as you move into the property.
Council tax bills should be sent out in April and you have the right to pay by 10 instalments. Local authorities may accept weekly or fortnightly payments. (Some may also offer a reduction in the total bill if it is paid all at once, at the beginning of the year.)
If you do not pay an instalment of council tax on the date it is due, your local authority must issue a reminder, asking for payment within seven days. If you fail to pay within this period, you lose the right to pay by instalments and a full year’s council tax becomes payable. If you don’t pay this within the next seven days, your local authority can ask the magistrates to issue a liability order. You could be sent to prison by the magistrate’s court if you do not pay.