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A guide to council tax

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What is council tax?

Council tax is a payment that you make to your local council (also known as your ‘local authority’). It is used to fund council services in your area, such as rubbish collection and road maintenance. It’s calculated based on the approximate value of the property you live in. The person who lives in a property is responsible for paying the council tax for that address, regardless of who owns it.

When you move into a new property, you will need to tell the local council that you are living there so they can calculate your council tax liability. The average council tax liability is somewhere in the region of £1450 per year, but this varies. You will usually be able to pay in instalments.

Who has to pay council tax?

Most people in England, Wales and Scotland have to pay council tax. Some people are eligible for a discount and some people are exempt.

If you live on your own, or with a person who is exempt (known as a ‘disregarded person’), you will be eligible for a 25% discount.

People who are disregarded include full-time students, and those under the age of 18. For a full list of disregarded people, visit the Citizens Advice website.

If everyone living at the address qualifies as a disregarded person, the council tax may be reduced by 50%, or the property may be exempt altogether, depending on who lives there. If everyone living at the address is a student, for example, the whole property will be exempt from council tax.

People who are on a low income may also be able to apply for a council tax reduction. If you are on a low income and would like more information about council tax reductions, get in touch with your local authority.

Who is my local authority?  

To find out who your local council is, click here and enter your postcode. However, to save you the time and hassle of contacting the council, you can sign up for all your essential home services via Tili, the digital home move assistant. Tili notifies the council and water authority you're moving, and helps you pick energy, broadband and TV plans. Start your home move with Tili now. 

How much council tax do I have to pay?

Council tax is split into ‘bands’ that run from A to H in England and Scotland, and A to I in Wales. A is the lowest-cost band, and I is the highest, with gradual increments in between.

The property you live in will be banded according to its estimated value in 1991. Factors that affect the value include the neighbourhood you live in and the size of the property.

In England, band A costs an average of £1,114 per year and band H costs an average of £3,342.

In Wales, band A costs an average of £995 per year and band I costs an average of £3,481.

In Scotland, band A costs an average of £805 per year and band H costs an average of £2,960.

For a full list of bands, and the average cost of each band, click here. You can find out what the council tax band for your home is by clicking here.

What happens if I don’t pay my council tax?

If you don’t pay your council tax instalments, the local authority will send you a reminder, and may ask you to pay the whole annual bill up front. If you’re struggling to pay, get in touch with them straight away, as there may still be a chance to pay in instalments.

If you still don’t pay, the council will apply to the court for an order to recover the arrears. At this point, additional charges will be added to your account. If you get a letter saying the council is applying to court, you still have a chance of stopping things from going further, but you should act fast and contact the council straight away.

Moving out

When you leave your address, you’ll need to let the council know. They will send you a final bill. You’ll need to give them your new address so they can send this to you. Then, when you move in to your new home, contact the new local council (if it’s different), and they’ll set up your new account.

How can Tili help me?

Tili, the digital home move assistant, is designed to make it easier for you to move house. This includes informing your new local authority that you’re moving in. When you give us your postcode, we’ll find your new local authority, and send them an email with your name, new address, phone number and email address, so they can contact you to set up your new account. You will still need to let the council at your old address that you’ve left.

Save time and hassle with the Tili digital home move assistant
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