Council tax is an amount fixed by your local council to pay for local services, such as roads, libraries, the fire service and schools. But did you know you could be paying too much council tax? Here’s how you can find out, and when to make a claim.
When Council Tax was introduced in 1991, local councils were under a lot of pressure to put properties into price bands. This meant that snap judgements were often made without proper consideration. The bandings applied were only reviewed in Wales, meaning most properties in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland still pay Council Tax based on the decision made in 1991.
You can check your council tax band by entering your postcode on the Government’s website. This will reveal not only the band you are in but also your neighbours’, which will help you to establish whether the price you are paying is in line with similar properties nearby.
It’s tempting to challenge your Council Tax band, especially as you may be due a refund of overpaid tax dating back to when you first started living in the property (or 1993 at the earliest). However, it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees and that your council tax band may have gone up as well as down.
As well as comparing your band to your neighbours’, it’s worth estimating your property’s value in 1991. The Money Saving Expert website has a free calculator that enables you to estimate your property’s value in 1991, using today’s valuation. If you’re not sure what your property is currently worth, try looking on sites such as Zoopla which detail sale prices of specific properties in your area.
If you think your property should be in a lower band, you can make a challenge by visiting Valuation Office Agency and filling in a form. Remember, there are no guarantees, but if you believe your Council Tax band is wrong, it may be worth making a claim.
In certain cases, you may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of Council Tax you pay – sometimes up to 100% of the bill. For example, if you’re unemployed, on a low income, have a disability, a live-in carer or working as an apprentice you might be eligible for a reduction. For a full list see the Gov.uk website.
You may not save hundreds or get a huge refund, but with online facilities making it easy to check why not see whether your tax banding might be wrong?