How to reduce or pay no council tax bill

It feels like council tax is going up and services going down. From weekly bin collections disappearing to lacking social care :-(.

Last year my family were subject to two possible exemptions and discounts but someone may easily miss these – one was full exemption for a home undergoing major works and the other was a student-occupied property.

While you cannot directly negotiate or reduce your council tax rate, there are some strategies you can consider to manage your council tax payments more effectively:

  1. Check your council tax band: Make sure your property is placed in the correct council tax band. You can find information about your property’s band on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website in England and Wales, the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) website in Scotland, or the Land and Property Services (LPS) website in Northern Ireland. In some cases, you may be able to appeal your council tax band if you believe it has been assessed incorrectly. Y
  2. Apply for discounts or exemptions: Check if you are eligible for ANY council tax discounts or exemptions. Common examples include:
    • Single person discount: If you are the only adult living in the property, you may be entitled to a 25% discount.
    • Student exemption: If everyone in the property is a full-time student, you may be exempt from paying council tax.
    • Student properties and exemptions: If everyone living in the property is a full-time student, you may be exempt from paying council tax. Students are generally not counted when calculating council tax, and this exemption can significantly reduce or eliminate your council tax liability. However, there is a 25% rule for working individuals: If there is even one working person living in the property, they may be eligible for a 25% discount on the council tax bill. This discount is applied if the other residents are not counted for council tax purposes, such as full-time students.
    • Disabled person reduction: If your home has been adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person, you may qualify for a reduction.
  3. Consider Council Tax Support: If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support, which can help reduce the amount you need to pay. Contact your local council to inquire about this support.
  4. Negotiate a payment plan: If you’re struggling to pay your council tax, contact your local council as soon as possible to discuss your situation. They may be able to arrange a payment plan that suits your financial circumstances.
  5. Search for local schemes or discounts: Some local councils offer additional schemes or discounts to residents. Check with your local council to see if there are any specific programs that may help you reduce your council tax.

I wanted to delve into the unlivable property exemption. If your property is considered unlivable due to major works or renovations, you may be eligible for a discount or exemption on your council tax:

  1. Empty property discount: Many local councils provide a discount on council tax for properties that are empty and undergoing major renovations or repairs. This discount is usually temporary and varies among councils, but it can range from 10% to 50% off the full council tax amount. Contact your local council to inquire about an empty property discount and the specific criteria you need to meet.
  2. Uninhabitable property exemption: Some councils offer exemptions for properties that are deemed uninhabitable due to major works. This means that you won’t be required to pay council tax during the period when your property is unfit for occupation. Check with your local council to see if they have specific provisions for properties undergoing major renovations.
  3. Notify your local council: It’s crucial to inform your local council about the situation as soon as possible – do not wait till work is done. This is not a retrospective discount, whether you can prove it or not. Usually, someone will come out to inspect the property. Provide them with details about the major works being carried out, the expected duration of the works, and any other relevant information. They will guide you on the appropriate steps to take and may require further documentation to support your claim.
  4. Temporary discount during major works: In some cases, even if there is no specific uninhabitable property exemption, your local council may consider offering a temporary reduction or discount during the period of major works. Again, this will depend on the policies and discretion of your specific council.
  5. Appeal or dispute: If your local council does not provide the expected relief or if you disagree with their decision, you may have the right to appeal or dispute their decision. Follow the appeals process outlined by your local council, and provide any necessary evidence to support your case.

Always check with your local council for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding discounts or exemptions for unlivable properties during major works, as well as specific rules for student properties and the 25% rule. Policies can vary between councils, so it’s important to understand the specific rules and procedures in your area.

Image credit: Image by Barry D from Pixabay

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