Council Tax in the United Kingdom

Understanding Council Tax in the United Kingdom...

All residents, whether in a rented or privately owned property, in a flat, bungalow or house, must pay a tax to their local authority to cover the cost of local services such as rubbish collection. It is normally paid monthly. When moving house it is important that home-owners or renters let the local authority know when they plan to move out of the property so they do not overpay. In some cases rebates will be given. Likewise when someone moves into a new home, they must register with the new local authority so the billing is correct.

How the amount is calculated

Every property in the country has been valued and put into a valuation band, based on their value in April 1991 (or 2003 for Wales). This valuation band determines how much Council Tax each resident must pay. The valuation bands differ in England, Wales and Scotland.

To see which valuation band the property falls under:

The amount of council tax each resident pays depends on the local authority. Each local authority sets its own Council Tax rates.

To find out more about Council Tax, contact the local council.

How to pay

The person who lives in the property must pay the Council Tax, that is the owner or the tenant. In order to do this they must contact the local authority and register as the tenant or owner of the property.

There are several options for paying Council Tax:

  • By direct debit, which gives the local authority permission to claim payments from the resident's bank account
  • By standing order, which gives the resident's bank permission to pay set amounts to the council.
  • Online payments
  • By post, sending a cheque to the relevant council address
  • By telephone. Many local authorities have the equipment to take payments over the phone
  • In person, delivering a cheque to the relevant council address

If payments are missed, a reminder will be sent to the resident and they will have seven days to pay the bill. If this still not paid, the resident may well be asked to pay the full outstanding balance of the bill. If the balance is not paid in this case, the council will commence legal action to recover the money.

  • For a comprehensive guide to Council Tax bills: Click here

Council tax benefits

For individuals on a low income, or unemployed, there are benefits which can be claimed. Some or all of the Council Tax is paid, in certain circumstances.

If you are a full-time student, you may be exempt from paying Council Tax.