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What is Council Tax? The Ultimate Guide on the Council Tax in the UK

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Council Tax is a local taxation system that is used across England, Scotland and Wales. It is a tax on property owned by domestic residents and was established in 1993 as part of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and replaced the ineffective Community Charge, which later replaced the rates for domestic use. Every home is allocated to one of the eight bands in England as well as Scotland (A through H) and nine-band in Wales (A from I) according to property worth, and the tax is an exact amount in each of the bands. The greater the value of the property, the more tax is charged however, this is not the case for properties that are valued over PS320,000 (in 1991 prices). Certain properties are exempt from tax and certain people are exempt from tax, and some receive discounts.

For the majority of us, Council Tax is one of the most expensive household bills. However, very most of us don't are aware of how it is calculated and implemented, precisely what it covers and the reasons why certain people might be eligible for an exemption from their Council Tax. This page is intended to address some of the most frequently asked questions that residents frequently ask us and also to direct you towards Council Tax information or services that might be helpful to you.

What's the Purpose Council Tax and How is it Used?

It is a tax based on the property that all householders (both tenants and homeowners) typically must pay. The tax is local that is set by councils in order to provide local services. This is why the amount for Council Tax varies from parish to parish within the Bath and North East Somerset area, dependent on local expenses and budgets. The Council Tax is approximately a quarter of the council's earnings, and it is essential to help fund the local facilities and services, such as:

• Fire and police services

• libraries as well as educational services

• Waste collection and rubbish disposal

• Leisure and recreation facilities

• Transportation and parking

• Highway services

• Health and environmental standards as well as the trading regulations

• Administration, like registration of marriages, births and deaths. registration of marriages, births, and deaths

Council Tax helps fund its council's healthcare work, however, it does not fund local doctor clinics or hospitals. They are an obligation to NHS. NHS.

Who Pays The Council Tax

It's normal to be required to pay Council Tax if you're 18 or more. A complete Council Tax bill is based on the presence of at least two adults living in the same house. Partners and spouses who live together share the responsibility of paying the tax.

The Responsibility Hierarchy

1. A person who lives on the property and who is the owner of either the freehold, leasehold of the entire or part of the property

2. A tenant who lives on the property

3. An person(s) who lives in the house and is licensed. This means they are not tenants, however, they have the right to remain there.

4. Any person(s) living in the house, for instance, a tenant

5. A property owner that is not inhabited by anyone

The person closest to the highest position is the "liable" person. More than two people in the same position on the hierarchy are equally accountable. In most cases, the resident within the house is the person who is liable however it may be the owner of the property who is liable in the event that one of the following circumstances are met:

1. This property can be described as being in multiple occupancies (HMO) For example an apartment that is shared by several distinct households, each paying rent on their own.

2. The residents of the property are all less than 18 years old.

3. The property houses asylum seekers.

4. The people staying in the residence are staying for a short time and live in their homes in another location.

5. The house is a care home and hostel, hospital or women's refuge

6. If you're a landlord who leases out an apartment and you are responsible to pay the Council Tax bill depending on the type of letting agreement you are in.

Who Doesn’t Have To Pay the Council Tax?

Certain people aren't counted in the calculation of Council Tax purposes (' ignored'), reducing the number of residents we count when we draw our bill. If you are living with someone else who isn't counted, it could be a reason to get some sort of reduction on the amount you pay. If you're alone and you aren't counted you could be entitled to receive an exclusion from Council Tax; this means that you don't need to pay any fees at any time. This means that you may be eligible to claim an exemption in your Council Tax bill if you receive one.

You May Not Be Liable for (Exempted from) the Council Tax if you:

1. Less than 18 years old

2. On certain apprentice schemes

3. Aged 18 to 19 and in full-time, full-time education

4. An active student in a college or university

5. Less than 25 years old receive funding through the education and skills funding agency

6. A student nurse

7. An assistant in foreign languages that are registered at the British Council

8. Very mentally impaired

9. A live-in caregiver for someone that is not your spouse, partner, or a child younger than 18

10. A diplomat

What is the Process of Making It?

The majority of the Council Tax charge relates to the house you reside in, while the other half is ascribed to the residents or owners. The amount you must pay is determined by the value of the property in addition to the number of adults that reside there. If there are more than two adults over the age of 18 living on the property that is the total Council Tax charge for that property will be payable. Every household is liable for Council Tax, although sometimes you could be eligible for lower charges. The reasons for this could be:

• If a home is vacant because of a reason outside your control of you (such as hospitalisation for long-term, or following a death)

• Personal circumstances that mean you earn no or poor income (such as unemployed, full-time education or a long-term health problem).

How Much Council Tax Do You Pay?

How much you pay for Council Tax will depend upon the dimensions of your home and the price of your house. The value band appears at the bottom of the Council Tax bill, and must also be included on the selling information of any home you are considering purchasing. It is the Valuation Office Agency which is a central government entity (and not the local council) is the one accountable for the decision-making process for Council Tax banding.

There are eight property value bandings which range from A (lowest) to H (highest) and Band D is the midpoint of a typical home for a family. When we refer to the standard complete Council Tax charge for an area, we're talking about the amount households that are in Band D must pay. We calculate the cost for all other households within the region with respect to the amount in Band D. For instance:

Imagine the total Council Tax (Band D) cost for your region is PS1800:

• properties that fall under Band A will be charged 2/3 of the band D charge. If the Band D charge is PS1800 The charge for Band A cost will amount to PS1200

• properties that fall under Band H will be charged twice the properties in Band H will pay twice the D charge. In the same instance, if Band D is PS1800 and Band H is PS3600, the Band H charge will be PS3600.

For a more detailed explanation of the way Council Tax banding works and to check out the latest and past costs for your region Please refer to Council Tax bands and charges.

The Council Tax band valuation takes into consideration things such as the dimensions, layout and location of your house. If you make significant changes to your houses, such as by building an extension of large size or permanently taking away rooms or features, it's possible that your Council Tax banding may change. Inform us of any changes by clicking the button at the end of this page.

What Are Council Tax Bandings?

Taxes that you pay is based on the valuation of your home that was compiled in 1991 by the Valuation Agency (opens in a new tab) (or VOA) 1991. The Council's assessment of taxation is based on the worth of property that isn't being used for business. Different values put properties into different "bands". Based on that appraisal. Your home will have been placed into a specific band that corresponds to a specific range of values.

What is My Council Tax Band?

The property will be put in one of eight bands from A to H (A being the lowest) depending on the value of its assessment on 1 April 1991. Although the cost of property has been down or up since it does not impact an established band until and unless the council tax revaluation is completed. You can check your current band here.

Council Tax Bands in England (According to 1 April 1991 values)


up to £40,000


£40,001 to £52,000


£52,001 to £68,000


£68,001 to £88,000


£88,001 to £120,000


£120,001 to £160,000


£160,001 to £320,000


more than £320,000

Council Tax Bands in Wales (based on 1 April 2003 values)


​up to £44,000


​£44,001 to £65,000


£65,001 to £91,000


​£91,001 to £123,000


£123,001 to £162,000


​£162,001 to £223,000


​£223,001 to £324,000


​£324,001 to £424,000


​More than £424,000

Council Tax Bands in Scotland on 1 April 1991


Up to £27,000


£27,001 to £35,000


​£35,001 to £45,000


£45,001 to £58,000


​£58,001 to £80,000


​£80,001 to £106,000


​£106,001 to £212,000


more than £212,000


What is the Process for Collecting It?

Council Tax bills are issued throughout the financial year, starting at the beginning of April until the close of March. We send out bills to every household each March. Even if you're exempt from having to pay Council Tax, you should be notified of this. In general, we request that you to pay the amount over ten equal instalments starting from April through January with a break of two months in the months of February and March. This allows the Council Tax team the opportunity to reconcile your accounts prior to the beginning of the financial year.

The payment date must be the same every month. If you create Direct Debits in order to settle your invoice and you want to pay it off, you can select to pay on the first or 15th date of your month. If paying the bill in 10 instalments makes it difficult to budget your household spending You can ask for an invoice with 12 monthly instalments. Read more about this as well as other options we have to assist you should you be experiencing difficulties paying the Council Tax.

If there is a change in your situation (such as people moving in or out and/or losing or starting employment) This could impact the amount of your Council Tax bill. We can be informed of any changes swiftly and easily via this form. If any changes affect the amount you are required to pay, we will send you an updated bill and the schedule of payments instalments for a period of 28 days.

How to Register for Council Tax

If you're an adult who is not enrolled in full-time schooling or is covered by an exemption or relief, then you have to be liable for Council Tax. It is paid directly to the authority (council) for the region that you reside in.

If you want to pay Council Tax, contact your local council. They'll sign you up and issue a Council Tax bill. They'll also let you know what to pay and when. If you are moving to a different property or relocating to a new location you should inform your local council or the council in the new location you've relocated to.

If the home you've purchased doesn't have a Council Tax band, you'll be required to contact the local council. They'll schedule your property to be evaluated. Then your local council will guide you on how they can register with them and pay the council tax.

Council Tax Rebate / Discount

On February 3, 2022, the government announced a package of assistance to help with increasing energy costs. This included a one-time PS150 refund that's non-refundable to families in England who are in council tax bands. Properties from A to D. This was referred to as a tax rebate for councils. It was not applicable to homes that were not in use. On 1 April 2022 as well as properties that were classified as second homes for tax purposes of the council at the time of the 1st April 2022, and include properties that are granted an N S, U or W exemption. About 78% of the homes are chargeable.

They were placed included in Bands A and in Bands A - D in 2021 but did not qualify as an empty home or a second residence for tax purposes. In addition, discretionary funds have been made available to provide the same benefit to households that are in need of support but do not qualify for council tax rebates. They may be able to cover the cost of low-income households who reside in households living in Band E to H homes. Councils decide the amount of this rebate.

You can check here or on the official government site if you can qualify for a reduced council tax rate.

What Is Classed As Low Income for Council Tax Reduction

In general, the low-income threshold applies to anyone who is working age but not employed or is earning less than PS86.80 weekly, then they won't be legally required to pay council tax unless someone 25 or over lives in the same house and is making higher than PS86.79 per week. If a person is earning 60% or less below the median income limit, they will be eligible to receive a reduction in council tax on their tax bill. However, they must call the local council office in order to request a formal application for a reduction in their council tax and provide relevant information about their earnings and other circumstances.

The households of the UK are classified as poor if they earn less than 60 percent of their median disposable net income. Based on the most recent data collected and examined by the Department for Work and Pensions People who live in low-income households are categorized as low-income households. GOV.UK Facts and figures on ethnicity A couple that does not have children will consider themselves to be in the low-income category if household income is lower than PS17.100 BHC (before housing costs) and £14,800 AHC (after housing expenses).

Adult Social Care Precept

Local authorities who have responsibility for adult social care have been able to increase the council tax up to and an additional 1% an additional 1% for 2022-23. In addition, authorities didn't use the entire 3% in 2021-22. They decided to put off the payment until 2022-23, they could use the remaining funds (up to an additional 3%). In addition, it is the standard adult social care funding by council tax. This is a precept that is applicable to London Boroughs (including The City of London), metropolitan districts, county councils and unitary Authorities.

The Areas in England With the Lowest Council Tax Rates

Residents of Westminster are not just able to include the Queen as a neighbour and are the poorest payers of the council tax - just PS866 per calendar year. However, considering the fact that “Rightmove” has put the average cost for a terraced property at just under £ million this isn't sufficient to bring the area closed for buyers on a budget.

Also, Wandsworth located in southwest London is also known to have always been among the council tax rates with the lowest and, this year, it is among just four out of 329 local governments who will be able to lower their rates, the other three including Mansfield, Selby and South Ribble. Residents are expected to pay just PS872.55.

The Areas in England With the Highest Council Tax Rates

On the other side of the spectrum, those who live in Rutland located in the East Midlands have to fork out the largest amount of council tax. Rutland is the smallest county in the United Kingdom and has a population of just 4000 residents. Yet, every band D property is required to pay PS2,300 each year, which is 17% more than the average national. The second highest council tax is in Nottingham where the annual bills are now at PS2,294 - just PS4 greater than Dorset which is third.

What Happens If You Don T Pay Council Tax In the UK?

If you don't pay your council tax in the UK, the local authority can take enforcement action to recover the debt. This can include:

  • Court summons: The local authority may take you to court, and if found guilty, a court can order you to pay the debt and any additional court costs.

  • Warrant of execution: If a court orders you to pay the debt and you don't, the local authority can apply for a warrant of execution. This allows bailiffs to seize and sell your belongings to pay the debt.

  • Attachment of earnings: The local authority can ask your employer to deduct money from your wages to pay the debt.

  • Deduction from benefits: If you receive certain benefits, the local authority can deduct money directly from them to pay the debt.

  • Liability order: If you ignore a court summons, the local authority can apply for a liability order. This gives them the right to take further enforcement action.

  • Bankruptcy: In extreme cases, the local authority can petition for your bankruptcy.

It's important to contact the local authority if you're struggling to pay your council tax. They may be able to offer support or arrange a payment plan.

How to Challenge Council Tax Band in the UK

You can challenge your council tax band in the UK if you believe it's incorrect. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Check your council tax band: You can check your council tax band by visiting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website or contacting them directly.

  2. Gather evidence: If you believe your council tax band is incorrect, gather evidence to support your claim. This can include property details, recent sales prices of similar properties, and any changes made to your property.

  3. Submit a challenge: You can submit a challenge to the VOA by filling out a Council Tax Valuation Tribunal (CTVT) form, which can be found on the GOV.UK website.

  4. Wait for a decision: The VOA will review your challenge and make a decision. If they agree with you, your council tax band will be adjusted accordingly.

  5. Appeal the decision: If the VOA doesn't agree with your challenge, you can appeal their decision by filling out a CTVT form and submitting it to the Council Tax Valuation Tribunal.

It's important to note that if your council tax band is adjusted, your council tax bill will either increase or decrease. It's also important to remember that challenging your council tax band can take time, so it's best to act quickly if you believe your band is incorrect.

Do You Pay Council Tax On an Empty Property in the UK?

Yes, you are required to pay council tax on an empty property in the UK. Council tax is a mandatory tax on properties and must be paid even if the property is unoccupied. If a property is empty for more than 2 years, the local authority may charge a higher rate of council tax, known as the "long-term empty premium." There are certain circumstances outlined in UK law where a property may be exempt from council tax, such as if it is the main residence of a student, a member of the armed forces, or a person receiving care.

Do Foster Carers Pay Council Tax in the UK?

Foster carers in the UK may be exempt from paying council tax, depending on the circumstances. If a foster carer's home is their only or main residence and it is used as a foster care home, then it may be exempt from council tax. However, if the foster carer has another property that they use as their main residence, then they may not be exempt from council tax on the foster care home.

To claim an exemption, foster carers need to provide evidence to their local council, such as a letter from the fostering agency confirming their foster care status. It's important to note that the rules around council tax exemptions for foster carers may vary between local councils, so it's best to check with your local council to determine your eligibility.

Who Pays Council Tax Tenant or Landlord in the UK?

Typically, the tenant is responsible for paying council tax in the UK if they are living in a rented property. Council tax is a tax on the occupier of a property, not the owner, so the responsibility for paying it falls on the person living on the property. This means that if you rent a property, you are responsible for paying the council tax, not the landlord.

However, in some circumstances, the landlord may be responsible for paying the council tax if the property is unoccupied. For example, if the property is an empty holiday home or a second home, the owner will be responsible for paying the council tax.

It's important to check the terms of your tenancy agreement to determine who is responsible for paying the council tax. If there is a dispute over who should pay the council tax, it may need to be resolved through the courts.

What Constitutes a Separate Dwelling for Council Tax?

In the UK, a separate dwelling for council tax purposes is defined as a self-contained living accommodation that is either:

  1. Physically separated from other properties with its own front door, and includes cooking and washing facilities.

  2. Has its own means of heating, lighting and ventilation that are independent of other properties.

  3. Is not used as a main residence by someone living in another part of the building.

A separate dwelling may include a flat, maisonette, house, annexe, or granny flat. Whether a property constitutes a separate dwelling for council tax purposes will depend on the specific circumstances of the property and its usage. If a property is considered to be a separate dwelling, it may be subject to council tax.

It's important to note that the rules around what constitutes a separate dwelling for council tax purposes may vary between local councils, so it's best to check with your local council to determine your specific circumstances.

What Is A Liability Order Council Tax?

A liability order for council tax in the UK is a legal document issued by a magistrates' court that confirms that you owe a council tax debt and gives the local authority the power to take enforcement action to recover the debt.

If you have failed to pay your council tax, the local authority will send you reminders and final notices asking you to pay the debt. If you still don't pay, the local authority can apply to a magistrates' court for a liability order. If the court grants the order, it means that you are legally obligated to pay the debt, and the local authority can take further action to recover the debt, such as:

  • Deducting the debt from your earnings

  • Taking money from your bank account

  • Taking control of and selling your belongings

  • Committing you to prison (although this is a last resort).

It's important to note that if you are in financial difficulty and are struggling to pay your council tax, it's best to contact your local council as soon as possible to discuss your options and to try and reach an agreement on how to pay the debt.

Do Lodgers Pay Council Tax In the UK?

Lodgers in the UK may be responsible for paying council tax, depending on the circumstances. If a lodger rents a room in someone's home and shares living spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room, they may not be responsible for paying council tax. In this case, the owner of the property is responsible for paying the council tax as it is their main residence.

However, if the lodger rents a self-contained living space, such as a flat or annexe, with their own front door, cooking and washing facilities, and independent means of heating, lighting and ventilation, then they may be responsible for paying council tax. In this case, the lodger is considered to be the occupier of a separate dwelling and is liable for paying council tax.

It's important to note that the rules around council tax for lodgers may vary between local councils, so it's best to check with your local council to determine your specific circumstances.

How to Get Council Tax Reduction

To get a council tax reduction in the UK, you can follow these steps:

  1. Check if you're eligible: Certain individuals, such as those on a low income, pensioners, and people with disabilities may be eligible for council tax reduction.

  2. Apply: Contact your local council to obtain an application form, or apply online through their website.

  3. Provide evidence: You may need to provide proof of your income, benefits, and any disabilities or medical conditions.

  4. Wait for a decision: Your council will assess your application and notify you of their decision.

  5. Appeal the decision: If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal.

It's important to note that council tax reduction schemes and eligibility criteria can vary depending on the local council, so it's best to check with your local council for more information.

Who Can Be Eligible For A Council Tax Reduction?

In the UK, the following individuals may be eligible for council tax reduction:

  1. People on a low income, including those receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.

  2. Pensioners

  3. People with disabilities, including those who receive Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

  4. People who live in a property that has been adapted for a disabled person.

  5. People who are the sole resident of a property, such as a single parent.

  6. Students and full-time student nurses.

It's important to note that council tax reduction schemes and eligibility criteria can vary depending on the local council, so it's best to check with your local council for more information.

How Do I Find My Council Tax Reference Number without the Latest Bill?

If you don't have your council tax bill and need to find your council tax reference number, you can try the following steps:

  • Check previous bills: Look for any old council tax bills you may have received and see if the reference number is listed on there.

  • Contact your local council: You can call or visit your local council's website and ask for your reference number. They may ask you for some personal details to confirm your identity.

  • Check bank statements: If you pay your council tax by direct debit, your reference number may appear on your bank statements.

  • Check correspondence: Look for any letters or emails from your local council related to your council tax, as they may have included your reference number.

If you still can't find your council tax reference number, it's best to contact your local council for assistance.

How to Get a Council Tax Refund

To get a council tax refund in the UK, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Check if you're entitled to a refund: If you've overpaid your council tax, you may be entitled to a refund. You can check your council tax account or contact your local council to confirm.

  2. Request a refund: Contact your local council and inform them that you believe you are entitled to a refund. Provide any relevant information, such as the reasons for the overpayment.

  3. Provide evidence: Your local council may request additional information or documentation to process your refund, such as proof of a change in circumstances that led to the overpayment.

  4. Wait for a decision: Your local council will assess your request and notify you of their decision.

  5. Appeal the decision: If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal.

It's important to note that council tax refund policies and processes can vary depending on the local council, so it's best to check with your local council for more information.

How Long Do Council Tax Refunds Take In the UK?

The time it takes to receive a council tax refund in the UK depends on a number of factors, including the local council and the reason for the refund.

If you've overpaid your council tax and are entitled to a refund, your local council should process the refund as soon as possible. This can usually take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the council.

If you've made a claim for council tax reduction and your application has been approved, the council will adjust your payments accordingly and the refund should appear on your next council tax bill.

If you have any concerns about the length of time it's taking to receive your council tax refund, you can contact your local council for an update. They should be able to provide more information on the status of your refund and an estimated time frame for when you can expect to receive it.



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