Paying Your Council Tax Bill
Council taxes are a kind of municipal tax which are based on the estimated value of a property and paid to the local authorities in the UK like the city councils.
The tax rate for council tax is relative and is set according to the value of property, regardless of the use of council services. These council services include local services like policing, education and waste management
This tax can be paid by anyone living in the premises and not necessarily by the owner of the property. The owner is only liable to pay in the following circumstances:
- When more than one family who pay rent separately occupies the property.
- When there are minors or students (below age of 18) staying in the house
- When the people occupying the house are mentally not profound
- When the property is a hospital or other care homes like old age homes or women's refuge etc.
- When the people are only staying for a very short period of time like in a hostel or hotel and are permanently located elsewhere
There would usually be a council tax bill received by each home. The responsibility of paying this bill is as per the following hierarchy chart:
- First and foremost, if a person owns the property and lives in it, he certainly would be the top most person in hierarchy to pay the council tax bill
- Assured tenants- According to the Housing act of 1988, people living in the house and has a lease agreement for long term tenancy
- Third in the list is a person who is a legal tenant
- Fourth in the hierarchy is a person who is not a legal tenant but has permission from landlord to occupy the premises
- A person who lives in the property without lawful entry. Even an unlawful tenant is liable to pay council tax bill
- A person who has a lease of a minimum of six months but has not occupied the property.
- Lastly, the owner himself but who does not live in the property
In any case, a minor is not liable to pay a council tax bill. Another point to note is that if a couple is residing in the property; both of them would have the liability to pay the council tax bill, irrespective of the fact that the bill is marked to only one name.
Prior to generating any council tax bill, the VOA or the Valuation office agency first device a council tax valuation band for all the homes. Based on these bands, different council taxes are charged. The local council keeps a record of all properties and their bands in their locality which is called as the valuation list.
The eight council tax valuation bands are as follows:
Range of values (England 1991)
Up to £40,000
Over £40,000 and up to £52,000
Over £52,000 and up to £68,000
Over £68,000 and up to £88,000
Over £88,000 and up to £120,000
Over £120,000 and up to £160,000
Over £160,000 and up to £320,000
The actual amounts for council tax is annually decided by the local councils depending on the property's banding and an amount is allocated to each band. Since this is a relative amount, even when two properties are in the same band but based out of different locations, the council tax bill might differ. Also it is important to understand that the bandings were assessed on 1 April 1991 and post that there has not been any reassessment (except in Wales). So of course for many domestic the banding can be inaccurate if compared with the current value. Hence it becomes important to understand whether one is being charged correctly as per his banding or not.
One can do the following three things to keep a track if he has been billed correctly:
- Check if the council tax bill for neighbours is also similar. If neighbours own a similar property, their band should also be the same leading to the amount of bill being approximately the same.
- Valuation check can be done to check for the current sale price for the domestic property. This valuation can also be done with the help of a calculator which helps find out what the sale price of the property was back in 1991. This can then be compared to the current council tax bands.
- Appeal to the VOA or the local council if you have confirmed that the banding is improper according to the neighbour's banding or current valuation.
Alternately, one can also ask a real estate firm to perform valuation or banding for one's property instead of doing it himself.
Council tax bills are usually received in the month of April and can be paid in ten instalments. Local authorities may accept weekly or fortnightly payments. Sometimes some councils also offer a discount in the total bill if it is completely paid in the beginning of the year.
Also apart from this, under certain conditions one can get a discount on one's council tax bill, or possibly be exempt altogether if certain conditions as mentioned in the later sections apply to him.
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