What’s Council Tax?
A system of local taxation
- Collected by the local authority
- A tax on property, levied on people
- Applies to residential property only
- Uses a banded or tiered system for calculation
Each local authority maintains a list of all the domestic property in its area. Each property is given a valuation as at 6th April 1991 (soon to be revisited). The valuations are banded and the bands are uniform throughout England. A different set of bands apply in Scotland.
The tax is charged as a levy per band. So band A might pay £800 p.a. while band D might pay £2,000 p.a.
How do I find out the Council Tax BAND?
- Look at the Council Tax Bill, or
- Look on-line at www.gov.uk, or
- Visit the local authority’s offices, where the list is kept for public inspection. Sometimes a list is also available in libraries.
Are any PROPERTIES exempt?
Residential property which is empty. In England this means substantially unfurnished and in Scotland it means completely unfurnished. The exemption applies for a maximum period of six months.
- Property which is vacant because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable. The exemption applies for a maximum period of twelve months.
- Property where all the people living in it are students or are severely mentally impaired or a mixture of the two. (This may be a Hall of Residence or a house).
- Property in England that is a “granny flat” occupied by an individual who is a dependant relative of the owner of the main property.
- Property where all the people who live in it are under 18 years old.
- Property that is condemned.
- Property that is unoccupied because the owner has gone to care for another.
- Property that is unoccupied because the person who lived there has gone elsewhere to be cared for (e.g. hospital or care home or with relatives).
- Some caravans and boats.
In Scotland further types of property are exempt.
WHO PAYS Council Tax?
The liable person is liable to pay Council Tax. Usually a person living in the property will be the liable person, but sometimes it will be the owner even if he does not live at the property.
The owner will be liable even if he/she does not live at the property if:
- The property is in multiple occupation.
- The people in the property are all under 18 years old.
- The people in the property are asylum seekers and are not able to claim benefits including Council Tax benefit.
- People who are staying there temporarily and have their main home elsewhere.
The Council Tax you pay may be reduced if you can benefit from the scheme for disabled people or Council Tax Benefit, or a range of discounts. A discount is available where there is only one adult living in the property. Where there is more than one some may be disregarded for example:
- Persons aged under 18.
- Persons living in the property temporarily and who have their main home elsewhere.
- Prisoners etc.
- People who are severely mentally impaired.
- Full time students.
- Long term hospital patients or care-home residents.
- Care workers and live-in carers.
- Members of a religious community.
- Members of visiting armed forces and their dependents.
This is not an exhaustive list of persons who qualify for discount – for a complete list you should contact the local authority or Citizens Advice Bureau or go online.
Appeals can be made about a range of issues about Council Tax.
Appeal to the Valuation Office about the band in which the property is placed or whether or not the property should be on the valuation list, or, in the case of a mixed use property, how much is residential and how much is not.
Appeal to the Local Authority about who is the liable person, exemption, discounts, and reduction schemes.
There are strict time limits for making an appeal. Generally this is six months from the time the appellant became the liable person.
- If you live permanently in a hotel you will not be liable for Council Tax.
- If you live in a stationary caravan you will pay Council Tax, if you have a fixed caravan as a holiday home you may pay business rates. Towing caravans kept at your home will not be liable for Council Tax.
- If you have a second home the second property may qualify for a discount if no-one lives there permanently.