Council tax reband
If you live in a house, be it owned or rented then you will be aware of exactly what Council Tax is. Though many of us are unaware that we could actually be in the wrong Council Tax Valuation Band or that we could be eligible for a Council Tax Discount.
Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions
You may be entitled to Council Tax Discounts if you own a second home for which you are liable for the Council Tax payments. In this event you could be entitled to a discount from 10% to 50% dependant on the council to which you pay your tax.
You may also be entitled to Council Tax discounts if you are disabled or a carer. See our Council Tax section which gives further details of valid exemptions.
People living alone may be entitled to a single occupancy discount on their Council Tax. Contact your local council to make a claim.
There are quite a number of circumstances where properties are exempt from paying Council Tax. Students, Vacant properties, properties where the occupier are in hospital, are all examples. Click here for a full list of exempt categories.
Council Tax Re Bands
Back in 1991 at the end of the Poll Tax, Council Tax banding was introduced. The idea was that each home would be assessed and a Tax Band would be allocated to you with regards to Council Tax.
However, due to the amount of homes which needed to be assessed this was not actually ever done in any great detail, in fact people were simply assigned to drive down streets and basically take a guess at property sizes and values.
Due to this many homes were assessed incorrectly and even though this was known by the Government a thorough Council Tax re assessment has never been arranged.
It is certainly worth taking the time to assess what your home was worth back in 1991 and there are websites which have a house prices calculator on which this can be done. You can also compare Council Tax Bands on your street to see if your neighbour is in a lower band than you. Beware though that this can go either way and you could discover that you are in a lower band than you should be, so research is a must to avoid your Tax Band increasing rather than decreasing. This could also affect your neighbour's council tax band, which would not make you popular if it were to go against you, though it is probably unlikely that your neighbours would be charged an increase, but not guaranteed.
If Your Council Tax Band is too High
If you are as sure as you can be that you were actually put into the wrong Council Tax Band then contact your Local Borough Council and ask for a Council Tax Reband assessment. If this proves to be correct not only would you be paying less council tax but you would also have a back dated council tax refund from when you moved in or to when Council Tax was introduced on your property, whichever is most relevant.
Generally you can only appeal:
* within six months of becoming a new council taxpayer for a property
* within six months of the VOA notifying you that your banding has changed
You can also appeal at any time if:
* your property has been demolished
* physical changes have taken place in your area since the property was first banded, which could affect the value of your property as at 1 April 1991
* your property has been adapted to make the property suitable for someone with a disability.
Visit the Valuation Office website for a full list of circumstances when a valid appeal is permitted. You must continue to pay your council tax bill while you have any banding query or appeal pending.
Myths about Council Tax Banding
There was an intention to re-evaluate every property in England by 1st April, 2007 but these plans were abandoned in September 2005. Therefore, council tax bands continue to be set based on property values in 1991. At the time of writing, the VOA stated that there was no date set for re-evaluation and that the rumours of a "stealth" tax being invoked where completely untrue.