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How to check your council tax banding - Part 1

Posted 23 September 2015 by Shelley Bowers

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Are you paying the right amount of council tax? Find out how to check your banding with us.

Council tax bandings can be a tricky business. You’d think it would be pretty straightforward, if you all live on the same street, you would all pay the same, especially if all the properties on your street are a similar size. But nothing is ever that easy, and there have been lots of cases where councils have placed properties that appear similar into different bands than their neighbours, prompting those in higher bands to ask why. In this three part blog, we examine why this happens, how you can check your band and, if you think your band is wrong, what you can do about it. So let's crack on with part 1.  

Why has this happened?

Originally, councils used what your property was worth way back in 1991 to determine which band it sat in – simply put, the more expensive your property, the higher the banding. However, the process was a bit of a rush job following the abolition of the Poll tax. And, it’s now recognised that some of the valuations, and the bands properties were dropped into, were wrong. This is why you should check that yours is correct.

Before you start – a warning!

Not everyone is entitled to challenge their council tax band, it can only be done in certain circumstances. And, importantly, you must have become the new tenant or owner of the property within the last six months. To see if you’d be able to make a challenge, fill in this Council Tax band – formal challenge checklist questionnaire. 

And, even if you are able to, before you start, it’s worth bearing in mind that the process of having your property reassessed does not mean you can ask for your banding to lowered, it simply means you are challenging your current band. So, once the process has been completed, the result may be that all the other properties on the street move up a band to match yours, rather than yours being moved down to match theirs – it has been know before!

Step 1. What is your current council tax band?

So, if after that warning, you decide you want to go ahead with checking your council tax band, here’s what you should do.

But first, a short lesson on the council tax banding system and how much you’ll pay, depending on what band you’re property falls into. The bands range from A to H, with A being the cheapest and H the most expensive. Here are the valuation bands and the corresponding council tax charges:

 

Source: Manchester Council 

However, you need to check your own council tax charges, as they vary from council to council. For example, charges in Salford, shown below, are roughly £100 more than they are in Manchester, shown in the table above. Salford council also details the values of the properties that fall into each band. The property value bandings, however, don’t change from council to council. 

 

Source: Salford Council 

Lesson over! Now, let’s get on with finding out your current council tax band.  The easiest way to find out what band your property is in, is by looking on your bill. As you can see from the example below, the valuation band is clearly given on the right-hand side of the bill, number 4. It may appear in a slightly different place on your bill, but it won’t be too different to what you see here.

 

Source: Bradford Council

If you don’t have a bill handy, you can also check your banding here, using your post code. Just enter it into the box and hit search. You’ll then be presented with a list of all the properties on your street, just scroll through until you find yours. This is what the list will look like:

 

Source: Valuation Office

 

Okay, that'll do for today. We'll pick this up again tomorrow, so check back then to see what to do next. 

by Shelley Bowers

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