What is a council tax bill?A council tax bill is a system used by local authorities for taxation. These taxes are on domestic properties though some of these properties are exempt from tax. It is possible that some may not have to pay this tax at all while others may have to pay a discounted amount.
All homes fall under a valuation band by the VOA or the Valuation Office Agency. This council tax band is based on your home's value as of April 1, 1991. Each band is charged a separate council tax. The local authority in each area keeps a list of all the domestic properties in the area as well as the valuation band that it falls under. This constitutes the valuation list. These valuation bands are from A to H where A is for properties that are of a value of up to £ 40,000 and the band H is for values more than £ 320,000.
To find out what band the a particular property falls into, you can either:
- Check the valuation list at a local authority office
- Inspect the council tax valuation lists that are published by the VOA on the internet
- Ask your local authorities
- If you pay the council tax, check your tax bill.
What properties are exempted from the council tax?
Some properties could be exempt from a council tax for a short period or indefinitely. These include:
- Any unoccupied or empty properties that are unfurnished. This exemption is for a period of 6 months only and the property needs to remain unoccupied for that entire period with an allowance of occupancy up to 6 weeks during the period.
- Properties which are inhabitable without major alterations or repair. This exemption is for a period of one year whether the repair work is ended by that period or not.
- If the property is condemned.
- Any properties that are repossessed by the mortgage lender in a legal manner
- Properties where the occupant currently lives elsewhere in order to be cared for, for instance in a care home or a hospital
- Properties which are unoccupied where the owner is living elsewhere to care for them
- Any property like a house or a hall that is solely occupied by students
- An unoccupied boat or caravan that is a main residence. This exemption is for a maximum period of 6 months. If the boat or caravan is on a property where the council tax is already paid, it is again exempt
- Any properties occupied by those with severe mental impairment
- Properties which have occupants all under the age of 18
- A separate flat within a main property meant for a dependent relative of the owners
If your property is eligible for exemption of the council tax, you must consult an adviser.
Who needs to pay council tax?
It is just the "liable" person who is required to pay the council tax. He or she cannot be under the age of 18; even if there is only one name on the bill, couples who live together means both of them are liable for the council tax. This is true in case the couple is in a civil relationship, cohabiting or married.
The owner of the property is usually the liable person for council tax if:
- There is a multiple occupation on the property who pay rent separately
- All occupants are under the age of 18
- Occupants are asylum seekers
- The occupants have temporary residence on the property and have their main residence at another place
- If the property is a hospital, hostel, care home or women's refuge
If only one person occupies the property, then he or she is liable to pay council tax. If there are more occupants then a hierarchy of liability is followed. Whoever is at the top or closest is liable; two people at the same level on the hierarchy will both be liable. Here is the hierarchy for your reference:
- Any resident who is the occupier as well as the owner of the property either through freehold or leasehold and whether he or she owns a part or the entire property
- Any tenant who is residing on the property
- Any resident who is a licensee and resides on the property as well. this means that the resident is not a tenant but has the permission to reside on the premises
- Any resident on the property
- If property is unoccupied then the owner of the property
How much council tax must I pay?
A rate for council tax is set each year by the local authorities. Some people do not have to pay the entire amount. These are the ways in which your council tax amount can be reduced:
- The scheme for the disabled
- Any ongoing discounts
- Tax benefits and 2nd adult rebates
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