Council Tax

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Council Tax Payments & Benefits

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Who pays Council Tax?

In England, Scotland and Wales, most properties where people live are liable for Council Tax. However, there are certain exceptions, including property occupied entirely by students or members of the armed forces, and many vacant or unoccupied dwelling places. Usually the people who are resident in a property are liable for Council Tax, although in some cases it may be paid by the owner of the property.

To find out more about Council Tax payments and benefits please follow the links below:

* How much Council Tax do I need to pay?

* Can I get a discount on Council Tax?

* Can I claim Council Tax benefit?

How much Council Tax do I need to pay?

The amount of Council Tax you need to pay depends on the charges set by your local authority. These vary according to the value of your house or flat.

In England and Scotland, this is calculated according to the estimated sale price of your house or flat in 1991. Properties are divided into categories called ‘bands’, with the least expensive properties in Band A, and the most expensive in Band H. Slightly different bands are used in Wales.

The Council Tax payable for each band is set by the local authority, and varies across the country. However, the percentage difference between each band is always the same. In 2011-12 the average Band D Council Tax bill was £1,439. Overall, the average Council Tax per inhabited property was £1,196. Your local authority will be able to provide a list of Council Tax charges in your area.

If you think your house or flat is in the wrong Council Tax band, you can apply for this to be re-evaluated. However, in some cases this may result in your Council Tax charges increasing.

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Can I get a discount on Council Tax?

The Council Tax charges set by your local authority are for two or more adults living in a property. In many cases individuals will not need to pay the full rate. For example, if you are the only adult living in your household, you can usually reduce the figure by 25%. If you are disabled, you may receive a reduction in some circumstances, according to your personal situation.

If you live with someone other than your partner, and they have a low income or receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to Second Adult Rebate, which provides a reduction of between 7.5% and 25% from your Council Tax bill. You can only claim Second Adult Rebate if the person you are living with is not paying rent or Council Tax themselves.

Certain groups of people are discounted from Council Tax bills, including full-time students, young people who receive certain types of Skills Funding, overseas diplomats, registered foreign language assistants, and people with a severe mental impairment.

Depending on the regulations set by your local authority, you may be eligible for a discount if you own or rent a second home. Also, if you own an empty or vacant property, this is usually exempt from Council Tax for the first six months that it is unoccupied.

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Can I claim Council Tax benefit?

If your income is below a certain level, you can usually claim Council Tax benefit to cover some or all of the cost of your council tax. You can claim Council Tax benefit if you are working full- or part-time, or if you are unemployed or retired.

If you have savings of over £16,000 you will not usually be eligible for Council Tax benefit.

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