A Look At Council Tax

We are all aware of council tax. That monthly bill for 10 months of the year that seems to go up every year whilst we bemoan the value for money we get for it. But how much do you really know about it? Moolr took a look at council tax.

Who pays council tax?

Everyone pays council tax is the simple answer.You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax if you’re 18 or over and own or rent a home. Authorities base a full Council Tax bill on at least 2 adults living in a home. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill. You will get a 25% reduction off your bill if you count as an adult for Council Tax purposes and either:

  • you live on your own
  • no-one else in your home counts as an adult

The council will present a 50% discount if there is no-one living in your home, including you, that counts as an adult. Finally, you won’t have to pay any Council Tax if everyone in your home, including you, is a full-time student.

Why we pay council tax

The function of council tax is to provide funds to a local authority which they then utilise to deliver local services for the community. These services provided for include local police and fire forces, rubbish collection, transport and road maintenance. It also includes the administration of events such as births, deaths and marriages. Under the remit come libraries and leisure and education services, as well as the upkeep of local parks and sporting facilities. Many of these latter services have been the first authorities cut back under the era of austerity.

How do the government assess council tax?

Council tax operates on a series of bands, from A to H. A is the cheapest council tax band. H is the most expensive, and quite rare. Generally, the more expensive the property is, the more council tax the council charge to the person occupying it. You can get your house assessed if you suspect it may be in the wrong band. The amount of council tax due also varies by location. Local councils will set increases year by year.

Always pay your council tax

Council tax payments are a priority bill, and there could be serious consequences for non-payment, even jail.  If you’re more than 14 days late paying council tax then you will get a letter from the local authority reminding you to pay it. After that you’ll have seven days to make the payment. Further failure to pay could result in the council demanding payments upfront.  Court and bailiffs are the final options.

Council tax tends to rise each year

Even without austerity, your council tax would probably edge up each year. But the issue has been exacerbated in recent years. Local authority funding cuts by central government, of 60%, have meant that council tax has increased for most people. Part of the rise has been attributed to the policy that councils must apply a 2% increase to cover the cost of adult social care. 

Changes that may affect your Council Tax band

Your property may be revalued and put in a different band in some circumstances, for example if:

  • you demolish part of your property and fail to rebuild it
  • a person adjusts their property to create more than one self-contained unit, for example an annex, or granny flat. Each unit will have its own band
  • you split a single property into a number of self-contained flats
  • a person converts flats into a single property
  • you start or stop working from home
  • the previous owner made alterations to your property
  • there are significant changes to your local area, like a new road being built
  • a similar property in your area has had its Council Tax band changed