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Council Tax

Council Tax is a local tax that is used to fund services such as schools, rubbish collection, social services, police and fire services. You may hear it called the Poll Tax or Community Charge, although these were earlier forms of local taxation.

How much does it cost?
The amount of Council Tax that you pay relates to the value of your house on the 1st of April 1991, if it was built after this date an estimated value for your property is used. The value of all homes is divided into eight bands from A to H. A banded houses are those with the lowest value and therefore people who live in them will pay the least while H banded houses are the most expensive so people will pay more Council Tax.

Reducing your Council Tax
There are a variety of discounts available that can reduce your Council Tax bill. They include:

  • If you live alone then you may be entitled to a reduction in the tax by a quarter.
  • If your property is empty then you may have your bill reduced by 50%.
  • Full-time students are not normally required to pay.
  • If you have a low income then you may qualify for Council Tax Benefit.
  • If you are disabled or have a disabled person who lives with you and have adapted or use part of the building for their needs.

In all cases you need to contact your local council to check if you are eligible for the reduction.

Council Tax Benefit
If you have a low income and pay Council Tax, then you may qualify for help Council Tax Benefit to help you cover the cost. See our section on Benefits for more information or Directgov.

How do I pay Council Tax?
It is your responsibility to let your local council know that you are living in the area. Once you have done this, the Council should send you a bill that explains how and when to pay. Normally, you can pay by instalments (e.g. ten monthly payments). However, you can choose to make one payment or in some cases two. In all cases you must pay by the due date (e.g. first day of the month) or you may be told you are in arrears. If you fail to pay your Council Tax it can cause you problems as non payment of Council Tax is a serious matter.

Most local authorities offer you different ways to pay your Council Tax. You need to check what ways your own council provides. You can locate your council offices by searching the Internet or by using a local telephone directory. Move your mouse over the signpost to discover the 5 ways that most councils will accept payment.

We have an activity that looks at Council Tax statements in our Financial Records and Information section.

What happens if I don’t pay?
There are serious implications for not paying Council Tax. If you do not pay an installment of your Council Tax then the local authority can obtain a court summons from a Magistrate's Court. If you receive a summons you must immediately contact them. In many cases they will allow you to make them an offer to repay the arrears. However, if you have missed three or more instalments then they can demand payment in full, so contacting them at once is vital.

If you fail to pay arrears after receiving a summons then the local authority can ask for a liability warrant from the court. This can result in deductions being made from wages, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or even a visit from the bailiffs to take your property or possessions.

See our section on priority debts for more information on dealing with Council Tax debts.


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