Council tax was introduced in 1993 in England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland works on a rates scheme). It’s a payment based on the value of your home – Band A the least expensive to Band H the most (Band I in Wales). More detailed help with all these tips at www.mse.me/counciltax.
Check you’re not one of up to 400,000 homes in the wrong band
It’s estimated there’s currently around 400,000 homes in England and Scotland on the wrong band and have been overpaying possibly since 1993 – which you could be owed back.
In 1991 houses were valued by people driving by – it’s known as 2nd gear valuations – and it’s never been done since (Wales has more recently been re-assessed). I first came up with my ‘check and challenge your band’ system back in 2006, and I’ve had 10,000s successes since.
First step is to check whether you’re in a higher band than your neighbours, at www.voa.gov.uk in England and www.saa.gov.uk in Scotland. If it shows you’re in a higher band, remember it could mean their band is too low.
So next you need to do a valuation check, effectively back calculating what your house was worth in 1991 when bands were set. Don’t worry to make this easy I’ve a free tool to help at www.mse.me/counciltax.
If BOTH of these stack up then it’s worth asking the council to check if you’re in the right band. But don’t just have a go, without doing my two tests first, as it could mean your neighbours band goes up.
Do you live with someone with a ‘severe mental impairment’?
You could me missing discount worth £1,000s. If someone has a diagnosed severe mental impairment, which includes some with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes and more, then they may be disregarded for council tax purposes.
Meaning they don’t have to pay council tax if they live alone, and get 25 percent off if they live with one other adult.
Plus, some councils backdate it, leading to £1,000s back. This can be complex so read my full guide to brief yourself at www.mse.me/SMI.
Living alone or with under-18s
If living alone you’re entitled to a 25 percent single person’s discount. Plus, anyone under aged 18 and full-time students are disregarded for council tax purposes, so live only with an under-18 and you pay the single persons discounted rate. All student households pay nothing.
Live-in carers are also exempt if they look after someone with a disability who isn’t their partner, spouse or child under 18, for an average of at least 35 hours/week.
Had your home adapted for a disabled resident
Rather than a discount you may be able to get your council tax band lowered.
Martin Lewis is the Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip