What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a yearly tax paid to your local council to help cover the cost of services. Local councils use council tax to pay for lots of different public services like rubbish collection and road maintenance.

The amount of council tax you pay mainly depends on your own set of circumstances and which valuation band your property falls into.

It is normally paid over ten months of the year with no payments made in the final two months.

Council tax is only payable on domestic property and not commercial property which has it’s own form of taxation called business rates.

What does council tax pay for?

Most local services are paid for by using proceeds from council tax. One big exception is local health services which are covered by the NHS and funded by national insurance payments.

Some of the main local services provided for by council tax revenue include:

  • Education services and libraries.
  • Fire and police.
  • Waste and rubbish collection and disposal.
  • Environmental health.
  • Trading standards.
  • Registration of births, deaths and marriages.
  • Parks and sports centres.
  • Road maintenance.
  • Public transport like buses and trams.

Do I have to pay council tax?

If you are aged 18 or older you will usually have to pay council tax.

A council tax bill is initially worked out in the basis that at least two adults will be living in a home. It is the joint responsibility of partners and spouses to pay council tax.

In most cases paying council tax is a legal requirement however in some cases you can qualify to pay less or not at all.

One of the main reasons to be given a council tax reduction is if you are a single person living on your own. If you qualify as the only adult living in your home you will receive a 25% single person discount.

Other reasons why you may be granted a council tax reduction include:

  • You are working under PAYE or are self employed and receiving a low income.
  • You receive income support, universal credit, jobseekers allowance or employment support allowance.
  • You receive pension credit, savings credit or guaranteed credit.
  • You receive retirement pension income at a certain level.
  • You get social security benefits for example incapacity benefit.

How do I apply for a council tax reduction?

To apply for a council tax discount you need to be the person who is named on the council tax bill. To apply you will need to contact your local council. You can find contact details for your local authority here.

Each case is reviewed on an individual basis taking into consideration a number of factors.

There will be a local authority process to follow to allow for a council tax reduction to be awarded.

How much is council tax?

The amount of council tax you pay is largely dependent on your living arrangements and the council tax band your property falls into.

Band D is the average council tax band in England with values varying nationally. The responsibility to change council tax values is given to your local authority who can increase or decrease it periodically.

Your properties council tax band can make a substantial difference to the amount you pay.

Council tax bands

Council tax bands are administered by the valuation office agency (or VOA) and are worked out based on property values that are not used for business purposes.

The VOA uses the same metrics for all properties and using the open market value of your property on the 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales. Property price indexes are not used by the VOA when calculating council tax bands.

Your council tax band will not change if you bought a property at discount through a scheme like right to buy.

The VOA gives your property a letter with A being the cheapest council tax band. As you can see from the council tax band tables below you pay more the higher up the alphabet you get.

Council Tax bands in England based on values dated 1 April 1991:

Band Value at 1 April 1991
A up to £40,000
B £40,001 to £52,000
C £52,001 to £68,000
D £68,001 to £88,000
E £88,001 to £120,000
F £120,001 to £160,000
G £160,001 to £320,000
H more than £320,000

Council Tax bands in Wales based on values dated 1 April 2003:

Band Value at 1 April 2003
A up to £44,000
B £44,001 to £65,000
C £65,001 to £91,000
D £91,001 to £123,000
E £123,001 to £162,000
F £162,001 to £223,000
G £223,001 to £324,000
H £324,001 to £424,000
I more than £424,000

You can check your council tax band here and you will need your postcode to start your search.

Council tax rebate

It is possible that your property has the wrong council tax band. If this is the case you could be owed a council tax rebate back from your local authority.

If you feel that your band is incorrect you can check and challenge the council tax band your property has been assigned by contacting the VOA online, by post or you can call them as below:

Valuation Office Agency
[email protected]
Telephone (England): 03000 501 501
Telephone (Wales): 03000 505 505
Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:30pm

This process is only for properties for England and Wales. You should contact the Scottish assessors office for properties in Scotland.

To make a challenge with the VOA you will need to provide evidence to back up your appeal.

You may also be owed a £150 council tax rebate to help with the cost of energy price increases.

Pay my council tax

To pay your council tax bill in England and Wales is easy and secure to do online. You can start to pay your council tax bill online here which takes you to the GOV.UK website for processing your payment.

You can generally pay your council tax bill by phone or BACS as well directly to your local authority.

The website relating to your local authority will give you the exact phone number to call for your local area.


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