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.
All homes 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||Range of values|
|A||Up to £40,000|
|B||Over £40,000 and up to £52,000|
|C||Over £52,000 and up to £68,000|
|D||Over £68,000 and up to £88,000|
|E||Over £88,000 and up to £120,000|
|F||Over £120,000 and up to £160,000|
|G||Over £160,000 and up to £320,000|
You can check your council tax band on GOV.UK or you can find it on your council tax bill.
You can also check the valuation list at your local council’s main offices - and it might be available at your local library. There might be a small charge.
If a property is put into a different band, the VOA will write to the council tax payer, informing them of the change. The local council will send them a new council tax bill.
Some property is exempt from council tax altogether. It might be exempt for only a short period, for example, 6 months, or indefinitely.
Properties which might be exempt include:
Usually one person, called the ‘liable person’, has to pay council tax. Nobody under the age of 18 can be a liable person.
Couples living together will both be 'jointly and severally liable' - this means they are responsible as a couple but also individually. This is the case even if there is only one name on the bill and applies if the couple is married, cohabiting or in a civil partnership.
No one is under an obligation to make a payment until they are issued with a bill in their name or, if they are jointly and severally liable, with a joint taxpayers' notice.
Usually, the person living in a property will be the liable person, but sometimes it will be the owner of the property who will be liable to pay.
The owner will be liable if any of these are true:
If only 1 person lives in a property they will be the liable person. If more than 1 person lives there, a system called the hierarchy of liability is used to work out who is the liable person. The person at the top, or nearest to the top, of the hierarchy is the liable person. Two people at the same point of the hierarchy will both be liable.
The hierarchy of liability is:
You might be able to get a discount or reduction if for example you:
The council can charge you an 'empty homes premium' if your home is empty and unfurnished for 2 years or more - you pay this on top of your council tax.
The premium can cost up to:
100% of your council tax if your home is empty for over 2 years
200% of your council tax if your home is empty for over 5 years
From 1 April 2021, the premium can cost up to 300% of your council tax if your home is empty for over 10 years.
It doesn't matter if you furnish or occupy the home for short periods in those years. The council will consider the home empty until you furnish and occupy it for more than 6 weeks in a row.
If your property is already exempt from council tax, you won't be charged the empty homes premium. You also won't be charged the premium if your property is:
Council tax bills should be sent out in April. You’re usually asked to pay in 10 instalments. You have the right to ask to pay in 12 instalments instead. Local councils might accept weekly or fortnightly payments. Some might also offer a reduction in the total bill if it is paid all at once, at the beginning of the year.
If you’ve missed a Council Tax payment, you’re in 'arrears' - this means you owe money to your council.
Contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and ask them to review your band.
Valuation Office Agency
Telephone (England): 03000 501 501
Telephone (Wales): 03000 505 505
You will need to provide evidence to prove that your council tax band is wrong - you can find out what evidence you need on GOV.UK.
If the VOA agrees to review your band they will write to you, usually within 2 months, to let you know their decision.
Bear in mind that, if your home is already in band A, which is the lowest band, the VOA can’t reduce the band further.
You can make a formal application to challenge your council tax band.
You can do this within 6 months of:
You can also challenge your band if:
You can find out how to challenge your council tax band on GOV.UK.
The VOA can’t delete a band just because a property is empty.
Where a band is deleted and the structural alterations are completed, the property will then be banded as a new property, reflecting all extensions and improvements. The new band may be higher than the one which was deleted.
If you disagree with the VOA's decision on your challenge you can appeal to an independent valuation tribunal.
You can complain to your local authority if there is a dispute about:
The following people can complain:
You must write to your local authority with your complaint. The local authority should send you a reply within 2 months.
If they do not agree with you, you can appeal against their decision to the valuation tribunal. If the local council doesn’t reply within 2 months, you can appeal direct to the valuation tribunal without waiting for the reply of the local council, as long as not more than 4 months have passed since you first wrote to the local council.
The valuation tribunal can’t hear appeals about:
If you’ve complained to the VOA or local council and you’re unhappy with the result, you can write to the valuation tribunal to make an appeal.
The valuation tribunal is an independent body. Usually 3 members will hear an appeal and a clerk advises on law and procedure. You don’t have to pay to appeal.
When they get your letter, the valuation tribunal will acknowledge it and send you information about the procedure.
The valuation tribunal will send you a notice of the hearing – you’ll get at least 4 weeks' notice. It’s best to go to the hearing in person to put your case but you can ask the valuation tribunal to decide the case without you being there - you must do this in writing.
If you find it hard to understand English, the valuation tribunal can provide an interpreter. They can also arrange to meet other needs if you are disabled - for example, if you have mobility problems or need special equipment.
In all cases the valuation tribunal will consider all the information about the particular case and will decide what should happen.
You can get more information about the valuation tribunal from their website.
There are things to remember if:
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