Council Tax

Council Tax

Today’s world can seem like an endless system of paying out money to keep afloat. Try as we might, though, there are some that we absolutely need to pay for. If you are a home owner, council tax is an inevitability. But it’s reasonable to have questions. How much should I have to pay? How can I pay it? What if I run into difficulty? We aim to answer any question you may have and more in this article. Before we explore further, lets have a look at the council tax bands.

What is my council tax band?

The council tax bands are divided from A, B, C, all the way through to H, making 8 bands in total. They are based upon the value that a property would have sold for in April of 1991. The figures for the
individual bands for Scotlands are slightly different. And these are different again for Wales, which is determined on figures of 1st April 2003, and has category bands that run from A to I.

First, let’s look at the specifics regarding England:
Category A: Up to £40,000
Category B: From £40,000 to £52,000
Category C: From £52,000 to £68,000
Category D: From £68,000 to £88,000
Category E: From £88,000 to £120,000
Category F: From £120,000 to £160,000
Category G: From £160,000 to £320,000
Category H: £320,000 and above

Here are the statistics for Scotland:
Category A: Up to £27,000
Category B: From £27,000 to £35,000
Category C: From £35,000 to £45,000
Category D: From £45,000 to £58,000
Category E: From £58,000 to £80,000
Category F: From £80,000 to £106,000
Category G: From £106,000 to £212,000
Category H: £212,000 and above

And finally here are the statistics for Wales:
Category A: Up to £44,000
Category B: From £44,000 to £65,000
Category C: From £65,000 to £91,000
Category D: From £91,000 to £123,000
Category E: From £123,000 to £162,000
Category F: From £162,000 to £223,000
Category G: From £223,000 to £324,000
Category H: From £324,000 to £424,000
Category I: £424,000 and above

You can usually find out what band your property falls in by contacting your local council, or by seeing how much you pay and then working out what band that puts you in for the local area. Alternatively, you can use the government webpage :
https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands.

Simply enter your post code to get the answer.

How do the council tax bands affect how much I pay?

The system is pretty simple. There are set prices for those within the given bands. In a general sense, the closer to A you are, the less you will pay, and vice versa. The actual values vary from borrough to burrough, with the actual tax generally staying in keeping with local house prices. But this actually reflects a larger issue, how do you know that you’re paying the correct amount per year?

How do I know if I’m paying too much council tax?

You may have been startled to see that the figures you pay for council tax correspond to data collected almost three decades ago! What’s more, those that decided the tax bands for each property were anything but thorough. That’s why you’ll find that you share the band with everyone in your post code, regardless of the condition of the houses in the present day. Some houses have had plenty of work done to them, such as extensions and the like, that has increased the value of the property, but they still fall in the same tax band as those around it.

Aside from this, you may simply suspect that you aren’t or never have been in the correct council tax band for a number of reasons. A good first step might be to consult with neighbours to make sure you’re on the same band as them. Then you can try to find out the value of your property at the point of assessment. This information is not always easy to find but if you can get a hold of it, it’ll be a big advantage. Finally, you can contact the council to see if you are in the band you should be.

It’s worth knowing that around 400,000 properties in England and Scotland are estimated to be overpaying, so it never hurts to check.

What can I do if I think I’m paying to much?

Trying to make sure you’re paying the right amount is simply a matter of challenging the right department. You can do so through the Direct Giv website here: https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals

Alternately, you can go directly to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) if you live in England or the Scottish Assessors’ Association (SAA) in Scotland.

For the VOA, you can contact them directly and they will explain the reasoning for why you’re in the band you’re in. If you don’t want to do this, check your council tax band through the checker on the website, and then select that you think the answer is incorrect, selecting why from a
checklist.

For the SAA, it’s the same as the secondary process for the VOA. Use the resource through their website for assessing your tax band. Then if you disagree with the result, click on ‘make a proposal’ and fill out the form that follows.

NB/ Be aware that it’s not only possible to go down in tax bands. If you choose to challenge the assessment, you may find that you end up going up instead. In fact, in
extreme cases, your neighbours may be automatically assessed so if you don’t fancy being the most unpopular person on your road, do thorough research and make an
informed decision.

Exceptions and special rules

Although the rules for council tax payments seem very cut-and-dry, there are other bits of information you should know that may affect you personally.

1) Full-time students pay no council tax at all. This situation only changes if a full-time student
lives with someone that isn’t. The student is still not required to pay council tax, but they may
want to make a particular arrangement with those that they live with.

2) Others exempt from paying council tax are; those under 18, in a care home, members of the
armed forces in armed forces accommodation, those with severe mental impairments, diplomats
and a few others.

3) Homeowners who live by themselves are entitled to a full 25% discount. Even if you live with
someone(s) else, they may be considered disregarded and still entitle you to the full 25% discount. ‘Disregarded’ peoples include; an apprentice, monks/nuns, 18/19 year olds in full-time education, carers working over 35 hours per week and many more.

4) If all persons within a property are considered ‘disregarded, this discounts extends to a full
50%!

5) Low income earners can apply for a 100% rebate of council tax, the criteria for receiving
which is determined by your local council

6) A ‘hardship relief’ exists for those you have recently suffered or are suffering in difficult circumstances, to reduce or subsidise the amount of tax they need to pay. This includes those who have recently lost their job or suffered a family bereavment.

For a full list of concessions for your circumstances, contact your local council.

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