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Council tax discount: a complete guide

Posted 09 December 2019

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You might be paying full Council Tax costs when in fact you are eligible for a discount.

With Council Tax debts now listed as one of the most common causes of adult debt, it’s a good idea to see if you could be making a saving. 

How is council tax worked out?

Council Tax is a tax that you pay your local authority - it helps them pay for the provision of local services from bin collections, libraries and leisure centre to the Police and fire service.

How much you pay depends on where you live and the value of the home you live in, Most homes in the UK are given a Council Tax band by the government, although there are a few properties which are exempt.

There are 8 tax bands: A through to H. The Valuation Agency Office sets the criteria for each band and that criteria is based on the estimated value of the property in question at a set date - currently 1st April 1991 in England.

To check your council tax band in England and Wales simply use this tool provided by the Government, if you live in Scotland you can check here.  You can also check in person with your local authority.

council-tax-discount

What Council Tax discount is available?

There are a number of cases where you might not have to pay the full council tax due on your property. We’ve detailed some of the most common below, but for a full list see the Government's website.

If you live on your own

Perhaps the most common Council Tax discount is the Single Person discount. If you are the only person over the age of 18 living in your property then you could be eligible for a 25% discount on the overall bill.

If you have a partner over the age of 18 who typically lives with you, but they are on holiday or travelling, then you will not be eligible for the discount as your property will still be classed as their main place of residence.

Applying for the discount is specific to the borough your homes is in. If you aren’t sure this is a good place to start to match your postcode with the borough and website that you need to use.

If you are disabled

If you or a member of you family are substantially and permanently disabled then you might be able to get a Council Tax discount.

There are a couple of criteria which must be met to be considered eligible:

The property must have a room - such as a lounge - which is used for providing therapy or additional care to meet the individual’s needs

There must be enough space within the property to allow full wheelchair access

If you think you might qualify for this reduction then you can complete and return the Disabled Persons Relief Form which looks like this. Again, the form is specific to your borough.

For religious purposes

It’s not the most common reason these days but, if you are a member of a religious community you might be eligible for a Council Tax discount. Typically, this would be if you are a practicing Monk or Nun and fulfil the following two criteria:

You have no personal income or capital
Your main work involves prayer and religious duties

Council Tax fraud: it’s just not worth it

According to the Cabinet Office in England during 2018 there was £32.6 million pounds worth of wrongly or falsely claimed Single Person tax discount recorded.

If you are found to have fraudulently claimed Single Person Council Tax discount, your local authority may ask you to pay a £70 penalty for knowingly providing wrong or inaccurate information. You may even be asked to repay the total amount you falsely claimed back to the Council without an appeal. You are always best providing your Council with honest and accurate information.

If you are struggling with your Council Tax and other bills like credit card and loan repayments you may want to consider getting expert debt help. Reducing the payments to you unsecured lenders such as your credit cards may help you free up enough money to stay up to date with essential bills such as your Council Tax, rent, utilities and food.

You can find help with budgeting and sources of debt advice via the Money Advice Service. Alternatively have a look at the debt solutions that are available.

by Christine Walsh

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