How to cut your Council Tax bill – Money tip #141
When managing their finances people always overlook their Council Tax bill as they assume there's nothing they can do to save money. However, there are ways, other than moving house, in which you can potentially reduce your Council Tax bill and save thousands of pounds.
Below is a list of ways in which you might be able to cut your Council Tax bill:
Check you are in the right valuation band –
Your Council Tax bill is based on the value of your property. But when I say 'value' it is the value that your local council have assessed your property to be worth. When Council Tax was introduced in the early 90's properties were placed in 'valuation bands' which were established from nothing more than fleeting external glances of properties. Many properties have never been revalued subsequently. So you might not only be in the wrong valuation band and paying too much tax but you could even be paying more than your neighbours. Fortunately, it is possible to challenge your band and potentially save thousands of pounds if you think your band is wrong. But be warned, get your assessment wrong and you could equally be in too low a band in which case an appeal might get your band revalued upwards, as well as those of your neighbours potentially.
If there is a major change to your home's value -
You may be able to get your home moved to a lower Council Tax band if your house has reduced in value. Maybe you have had to adapt your house for a disabled person or a major road has been built close to your property which has resulted in a reduction in the property value.
Get a discount
Certain groups of people (such as those listed below) don't pay Council Tax. So if you live with anyone falling into any of these groups you can claim a discount as the full Council Tax bill is based on at least two adults (who are not part of any exempt groups) living at your address. So if only one adult lives in your home, ignoring those exempt people, your Council Tax bill will be reduced by 25 per cent. Exempt people include (source Directgov.co.uk):
- children under 18
- people on apprentice schemes
- 18 and 19-year-olds who are in full-time education
- full-time college and university students. For houses that contain full-time students only, the bill will be reduced by 100 per cent.
- young people under 25 who receive funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency
- student nurses
- foreign language assistants registered with the British Council
- people who have a severe mental disability
- live-in carers who look after someone who isn't their partner, spouse or child (up to 18 years)
Get a Second Home discount –
If you have a second property which you rent out then you may be entitled to a discount of between 10-50%. Similarly, if you have a second property that has been empty and unfurnished for longer than six months you may get an empty homes discount of up to 50 per cent. In both instances contact your local council to check your eligibility and claim. However, you can be charged up to double the Council Tax charge if your property remains empty for 2 years or more.
When you do not pay council tax
If any of the following criteria apply then there is no liability to Council Tax
- If you’re selling an empty property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you only start paying Council Tax 6 months after probate is granted.
- the property is empty because the owner is in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
- the property is empty because the owner has moved into a care home or hospital
- if the property has been repossessed
- the property has been deemed uninhabitable, for example, if they’re derelict
- the property is empty due to compulsory purchase and it will be demolished
Applying for Council Tax Benefit – people on a low income can receive help paying Council Tax bill via Council Tax Benefit. However, the government are planning on restricting the amount of money local authorities can hand out.
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