Citizens Advice - Council tax

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Council tax
This information applies to England What is council tax Properties exempt from council tax Who has to pay council tax How much is the council tax Empty homes premium for long-term empty properties How to pay council tax Arrears Appeals Particular circumstances

What is council tax
Council tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities. It is a tax on domestic property. Some property is exempt from council tax. Some people do not have to pay council tax and some people get a discount.

Valuation bands
All home are given a council tax valuation band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The band is based on the value of your home on 1 April 1991. A different amount of council tax is charged on each band. Each local authority keeps a list of all the domestic property in its area, together with its valuation band. This is called the valuation list. The valuation bands are: Valuation band A B C D E F G H Range of values 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 Over £320,000

Finding out what band a property is in
To find out what band a property is in, you can: inspect a copy of the valuation list held by your local authority – see below look at the council tax valuation lists published on the internet by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) at: www.voa.gov.uk - [http:// www.voa.gov.uk/cti/InitS.asp?lcn=0] check with your local authority if you are the person responsible for paying council tax (the liable person), check your council tax bill. For more information about who is a liable person, see under heading Who has to pay council tax.) A copy of the valuation list is kept at the local authority's main offices and is available for public inspection. Local authorities may also make the list available in other offices, including libraries. There may be a small charge.

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for example. a house shared by a number of different households who all pay rent separately. for example.[http://www. click on nearest CAB . six months. a resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the property 2. if a property is put into a different band. called the liable person. To search for details of your nearest CAB.Citizens Advice .citizensadvice. or indefinitely. hospital. every local authority will set a rate of council tax for each valuation band. a system called the hierarchy of liability is used to work out who is the liable person. These are: the reduction scheme for disabled people discounts council tax reduction and second adult rebate. a resident who lives in the property and who is a licensee. but sometimes it will be the owner of the property who will be liable to pay.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax. If more than one person lives there.org. the VOA will write to the council tax payer. Couples living together will both be jointly and severally liable. for example.uk/index/getadvice] . at a Citizens Advice Bureau. you should consult an experienced adviser. or the people who are staying in the property are there temporarily and have their main homes somewhere else.org. The local authority will then issue a revised council tax bill. The person at the top. or the people who live in the property are all under the age of 18. any resident living in the property. Usually. for example. in hospital. This applies whether the couple is married. if they are jointly and severally liable.com http://www. of the hierarchy is the liable person. cohabiting or in a civil partnership. The hierarchy of liability is: 1.pdffactory. hostel or women's refuge. Two people at the same point of the hierarchy will both be liable. for example. is liable to pay council tax. This means that they are not a tenant. Properties exempt from council tax Some property is exempt from council tax altogether. If the property is occupied by both students and non-students the property is not exempt but any students in the house are disregarded a holiday caravan or boat if it's on a property where council tax is paid a property where all the people who live in it are aged under 18 property which is occupied only by people with severe mental impairment a self-contained ‘granny flat’ where the person who lives in it is a dependent relative of the owner of the main property. with a joint taxpayers' notice. informing them of the change. a squatter 5. PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.uk/index/getadvice] . It may be exempt for only a short period.[http:// www. or the property is a care home. or nearest to the top. If you think that your property should be exempt. Nobody under the age of 18 can be a liable person. a resident tenant 3.htm 07/06/2013 22:30:50 . at a Citizens Advice Bureau. including those that can give advice by email. for example. an owner of the property where no one is resident. No one is under an obligation to make a payment until they are issued with a bill in their name or. or a house. but have permission to stay there 4. the person living in a property will be the liable person. If you think that the owner of the property should be paying the council tax.adviceguide. you should consult an experienced adviser. in a care home or with relatives property which is unoccupied because the person who lived there has gone to care for someone else any property that only students or Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme live in.org. How much is the council tax Each year. To search for details of your nearest CAB. even if there is only one name on the bill. The owner will be liable if: the property is in multiple occupation. This may be a hall of residence.Council tax Page 2 If the valuation list is changed. or the property is accommodation for asylum seekers. If only one person lives in a property they will be the liable person. Who has to pay council tax Usually one person. There are three ways in which your council tax bill may be reduced. Properties which may be exempt include: condemned property property which has been legally re-possessed by a mortgage lender property unoccupied because the person who lived there now lives elsewhere because they need to be cared for. for example. click on nearest CAB .citizensadvice. Not everyone will have to pay the full amount of council tax. including those that can give advice by email.

You are both disregarded people. the council tax bill will be worked out as if it were in band C. Discounts If only one adult lives in a property. at a Citizens Advice Bureau. The reduction applies for a maximum of six months and the property has to be vacant for the whole of this period.pdffactory. but there will be a 50 per cent discount. Example 1: You are ‘severely mentally impaired’ and live in a property with your carer. the local authority may later impose a penalty. civil partner or a dependant of a student who is a non. Empty properties A local authority can offer a discount of 100% or less.org.Citizens Advice . there will still be a council tax bill. If you do not do this. some people are not counted. Your main home is somewhere else. if the property is in band D. you should apply to the local authority for a discount. click on nearest CAB . These are called disregarded people.citizensadvice.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax. including those that give advice by email. Some will ask for supporting evidence. The discount will be shown on the bill. For example.uk/index/getadvice] .Council tax Reduction scheme for disabled people Page 3 If there is someone (adult or child) living in a household who is substantially and permanently disabled the council tax bill for the property may be reduced. past or present alcohol or drug dependence or past or present mental illness living in a bail or probation hostel a live-in care worker staying in a hostel or night shelter. If the property is occupied only by students then it is exempt from council tax altogether a spouse. you must tell the local authority within 21 days. If you believe that you are entitled to a discount and your bill does not show that you have had one. Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme.htm 07/06/2013 22:30:50 . When working out how many people live in a property.[http:// www. under immigration rules. If everyone who lives in the property is disregarded. Many local authorities will have a special application form. If you think that you may be entitled to a reduction because someone in their household is disabled you should consult an experienced adviser. This depends on the policy of the local authority where your second home is located. This includes a caravan or boat which is used as main residence but which is unoccupied PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.adviceguide. a doctor’s letter.British Citizen and who. To claim a reduction you must show that a disabled person lives in the property. as soon as possible. student nurses. the flat counts as your second home and so you might get a discount of between 10 per cent and 50 per cent. in a Salvation Army or Church Army hostel a school or college leaver aged under 20 and you have left school or college after 30 April. The reduction is made by charging council tax on a lower valuation band than the one the property is in. An application for this reduction must be made in writing to the local authority.com http://www. for example. or even no discount at all. If the bill shows that the local authority has applied a discount and you do not think that you should have one. To search for details of your nearest CAB. they will get a 25 per cent discount on the council tax bill. The reduction will be the same proportion of the council tax bill as the properties in the higher bands. You are entitled to a 50 per cent discount on your council tax. where you’re paying council tax. You are disregarded if you are: aged 17 or under a prisoner or someone in detention awaiting deportation or under mental health legislation 'severely mentally impaired' full-time students on a qualifying course of education (including correspondence or on-line courses). Your dependants are also disregarded. is not allowed either to work in the UK or claim benefit a young person on a government training scheme or following some kinds of apprenticeship a long-term hospital patient or care home resident living in a hostel which provides care or treatment because of your old age. and also that the property has at least one of the following: an extra kitchen or bathroom to meet the needs of a disabled person any other room (except a toilet) which is mainly used by a disabled person to meet their needs enough indoor space for a disabled person to use their wheelchair. Example 2: You are living alone in a flat on a temporary basis because of a short-term job. A local authority may automatically send a council tax bill which includes a discount. This reduction also applies to dwellings in band A. However. for example. You are a disregarded person. for example. on a property which is: empty and substantially unfurnished. You will be disregarded until 1 November of the same year whether or not you take up employment aged 18 and someone is entitled to Child Benefit for you a member of a religious community a member of a visiting armed force. physical or mental disability.org.

including those that can give advice by email. Appeals What to do if you think your council tax band is wrong If you think your council tax band is wrong.[http://www. These are where: the second home is owned by someone who cannot live there because they have to live elsewhere in England. you will also lose the right to pay by instalments. If your local authority issues you with three reminders for late payment of instalments within the same financial year.adviceguide. your local authority may continue to accept payment by instalments. They will write to you. In some cases. In some cases. you could be sent to prison by the magistrate's court if you do not pay. as long as they are paid on time. If you have someone living with you who is not liable to pay the council tax on your property. who is absent from the property as a result of such a service a property which forms a substantial annex to a dwelling. If you don't pay this within the next seven days. Council Tax Reduction and second adult rebate A person who is liable to pay council tax may be able to get: a council tax reduction a one-off discount or write-off of some of your arrears second adult rebate. Holiday homes and second homes In England. Employment and Support Allowance. click on nearest CAB . there are some special cases where local authorities have no discretion and the second home discount must be set at 50%. usually within two months. For details of Council Tax Reduction and second adult rebate. you should consult an experienced adviser. you will receive whichever is the higher. Jobseeker’s Allowance or wages. If you fail to pay within this period. for example.htm 07/06/2013 22:30:50 . you should first contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on: 03000 505 505. which is the lowest band. councils can offer a second homes' discount of 50% or less. How to pay council tax Council tax bills should be sent out in April. to let you know their decision. The reduction applies for a maximum of 12 months whether the work is actually finished or not by then (although up to six weeks of occupation during the period is allowed). in practice. your local authority must issue a reminder. at the beginning of the year. Those properties which are already exempt from council tax will not be charged the empty homes premium. A liability order allows a local authority to make arrangements for the arrears to be paid by deductions from your Income Support. Arrears When you have not paid an instalment of council tax on the date it is due. However. holiday homes or second homes will be liable for council tax. Some may also offer a reduction in the total bill if it is paid all at once. PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www. see Council Tax Reduction – what you need to know. A full year's council tax becomes payable when the third reminder is issued. Empty homes premium for long-term empty properties Local authorities may charge an empty homes premium of up to 50 % on properties that have been empty and substantially unfurnished for two years or more. If you are in arrears of council tax. You have the right to ask to pay in twelve instalments instead.citizensadvice. However.com http://www. or for bailiffs to seize your goods to the value of the amount owed. or even no discount at all. You are usually asked to pay by 10 instalments. asking for payment within seven days. In England.pdffactory. In addition. at a Citizens Advice Bureau. the VOA cannot reduce the band further. the VOA may review your band. This depends on the policy of the local authority where your holiday home or second home is located. Alternatively. Local authorities may accept weekly or fortnightly payments. This includes a caravan or boat which is used as main residence but which is unoccupied.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax.org. Many enquiries can be sorted out on the spot. you lose the right to pay by instalments and a full year's council tax becomes payable. your local authority can ask the magistrates to issue a liability order. If you are entitled to both. because no one lives there on a permanent basis. which is being used as part of the main residence in that dwelling. you can make a formal application to have your band changed.Citizens Advice .org. if your home is already in band A. Bear in mind that. the following properties cannot be charged the premium: a property which would otherwise be the sole or main residence of a member of the armed forces. You will not be able to get a second adult rebate as well as Council Tax Reduction. To search for details of your nearest CAB. This is called making a proposal.Council tax Page 4 empty because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable. Wales or Scotland because of their job or their partner's job the second home is a pitch with a caravan on it or a mooring occupied by a boat.uk/index/getadvice] . If it is in Wales or Scotland the discount may vary. you may be able to claim a benefit called a ‘second adult rebate’.

org. If the local authority does not reply within two months. If you want to make an appeal about council tax.htm 07/06/2013 22:30:50 . you can then write to the valuation tribunal to make an appeal. the valuation tribunal will acknowledge it and send you information about the procedure.voa. If you disagree with the VOA's decision on your proposal. You can get more information about the valuation tribunal from their website at: www. you should consult an experienced adviser. The following people can complain: a liable person. The new band may be higher than the one which was deleted. You will need specialist legal advice before taking one of these cases.Citizens Advice . Or you can fill in a form online at: www. Page 5 Where a band is deleted and the structural alterations are completed. Other complaints about council tax You can complain to your local authority if there is a dispute about: whether or not someone is a liable person. including someone who is jointly liable an aggrieved person.gov. The valuation tribunal If you have complained to the VOA or local authority about any of the issues listed above and you are unhappy with the result.voa. The valuation tribunal is an independent body. at a Citizens Advice Bureau.htm] . reflecting all extensions and improvements. The local authority should send you a reply within two months. If you have problems understanding English.gov. the property will then be banded as a new property.org. for example.uk/ corporate/CouncilTax/DomesticPropertiesWhichAreInDisrepairOrAreDerelict. ask the VOA to send you a proposal form to fill in. If you want to make a proposal. Also they cannot hear appeals about the level of a discount the local authority has decided to set for second homes or long-term empty homes.gov. However.uk/index/getadvice] . The level of these discounts can only be challenged in the High Court by a legal procedure called judicial review. The valuation tribunal cannot hear appeals about why you have not paid your council tax or appeals about Council Tax Reduction. see the VOA website at: www. they can provide an interpreter. You must write to your local authority with your complaint. For more information about council tax banding.uk . You do not have to pay to appeal. they will send you a notice of the hearing – you will get at least four weeks' notice.gov. There are time limits within which you can appeal – see above. you can appeal against their decision to the valuation tribunal (see below). Usually three members will hear an appeal and a clerk advises on law and procedure.[http://www.voa.[http://www.valuationtribunals. When they get your letter.Council tax You can make a proposal within six months of: becoming a new council tax payer on a property the VOA notifying you that your banding has changed.adviceguide. including those that can give advice by e-mail.com http://www. You can also make a proposal if: your property has been demolished substantial changes have occurred in the locality that have affected the value of your home as at 1 April 1991 your property has been adapted for someone with a disability. PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www. for example.citizensadvice.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax.gov. click on nearest CAB .html] .gov. you can appeal to an independent valuation tribunal – see under heading The valuation tribunal.uk] . as long as not more than four months have passed since you forest wrote to the local authority. They can also arrange to meet other needs if you are disabled. The VOA have produced a factsheet which sets out their approach for properties that are in disrepair at www.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk . you can appeal direct to the valuation tribunal without waiting for the reply of the local authority. for example.uk] .gov. This is someone who is directly affected by the decision.[http:// www. they can decide the case without you being there.uk/council_tax/cti_home.pdffactory. To search for details of your nearest CAB. The VOA cannot delete a band just because a property is empty.uk .voa.voa. the administrator of the estate of a liable person who has died.voa. This includes a dispute about someone who is jointly liable because there are two or more people on the same level of hierarchy or where someone is jointly liable because they are one of a couple whether a property is exempt whether a discount applies whether or not the reduction scheme for people with disabilities applies to you whether the premium should be charged. if you prefer and you ask the valuation tribunal in writing.uk . As soon as possible. if you have mobility problems or need special equipment.[http://www.[http://www. You are advised to go to the hearing in person to put your case. If they do not agree with you. In all cases the valuation tribunal will consider all the information about the particular case and will decide what should happen.

if all the people living in the property are students or Foreign Language Assistants.Citizens Advice . Towing caravans kept at your home will not be subject to either council tax or business rate If you are a student or Foreign Language Assistant on the official British Council programme. PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax.uk .citizensadvice.gov. including those that can give advice by email.voa. However.voa.[http://www.gov.com http://www. If some of the residents are students or Foreign Language Assistants.uk/index/ getadvice] .uk/corporate/Publications/ holidayCottagesGuide. you will have to pay council tax if you are the liable person for a property.html] If you own caravans or mobile homes – if you live permanently in a caravan or mobile home. click on nearest CAB . no council tax will be payable. To search for details of your nearest CAB.htm 07/06/2013 22:30:50 .adviceguide. The VOA has produced a factsheet for England on holiday cottages which is available at www. you will pay the council tax.pdffactory.org. for example. This depends on the policy of the local authority where your holiday home or second home is located.[http://www. you have to pay business rates.org. not council tax.Council tax Page 6 Particular circumstances There are particular points to remember in the following circumstances:If you live permanently in a hotel – you will not be liable for council tax on the property although the hotel charges would probably include an amount towards any council tax payable If you have more than one home – you will probably pay a reduced council tax on your second home (if no-one lives there) and a full council tax on your main home. If you are in any of these groups and need further information you should consult an experienced adviser. If you have a caravan that you let out as a business. at a Citizens Advice Bureau. the council tax may be reduced.