What is council tax?

You pay council tax for local services in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Northern Ireland has a similar tax where you pay rates based on the current value of your property.

Council tax is usually paid by whoever lives in the property. This might be the owner occupier or the tenants.

How much you’ll pay depends on the value of your home and where you live. 

Depending on your circumstances, you might not have to pay council tax, or you may be able to get a discount.

Single person discount

You can get a single person discount if you’re the only person over 18 living in your home. 

This discount means you get 25% off your council tax bill.

Full time student

If everyone in a household is a full time student you do not have to pay council tax. 

If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption on the GOV.UK website.

Discounts for disabled people

People who are severely mentally impaired do not have to pay council tax.

If you're a live-in carer and look after someone who is not your partner or child under 18, you do not have to pay council tax.

What does council tax pay for?

Council tax pays for local services such as:

  • planning

  • transport

  • police

  • fire services

  • libraries

  • leisure and recreation

  • parks

  • street lighting

  • road maintenance

  • rubbish collection and disposal

  • environmental health

  • trading standards

How is council tax worked out?

How much council tax you pay depends on:

  • the valuation band your property falls into

  • your local authority

Your council tax band is based on your property's value on 1 April 1991 for England and Scotland. And 1 April 2003 for Wales.

England and Scotland have 8 council tax bands ranging from A to H.¹ 

Wales has 9 bands, from A to I.

What are the council tax valuation bands?

Below are the tax bands for England, Scotland and Wales.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) decides which band each property falls into.

The VOA also looks at renovated or redesigned and new build properties. It puts them into the right council tax band.

The VOA will also reconsider a property when there’s a council tax band appeal.

Value at 1 April 1991

Band A

up to £40,000

Band B

£40,001 to £52,000

Band C

£52,001 to £68,000

Band D

£68,001 to £88,000

Band E

£88,001 to £120,000

Band F

£120,001 to £160,000

Band G

£160,001 to £320,000

Band H

more than £320,000

Band I

n/a

Value at 1 April 1991

Band A

Up to £27,000

Band B

£27,001 - £35,000

Band C

£35,001 - £45,000

Band D

£45,001 - £58,000

Band E

£58,001 - £80,000

Band F

£80,001 - £106,000

Band G

£106,001 - £212,000

Band H

more than £212,000

Band I

n/a

Value at 1 April 2003

Band A

Up to £44,000

Band B

£44,001 -£65,000

Band C

£65,001 to £91,000

Band D

£91,001 to £123,000

Band E

£123,001 to £162,000

Band F

£162,001 to £223,000

Band G

£223,001 to £324,000

Band H

£324,001 to £424,000

Band I

more than £424,000

What is my council tax band?

If you live in England or Wales you can find your council tax band by looking up its postcode on GOV.UK.²

Information about homes in Scotland is on the Scottish Assessors website.³

Your council tax band will also be on your council tax bill or online account.

How much is council tax?

Each year, your local authority will set a rate of council tax for each valuation band. 

How much the tax is for each band will vary between local authorities.

For example, a Band D property in the City of Westminster will pay £780.28 for 2020-21.⁴

A Band D property in Durham will pay £2,071.⁵

The average Band D council tax set by local authorities in England for 2020-21 is £1,817.⁶

You can check which local authority your home is in by entering your postcode on the GOV.UK website.

Your local authority’s website will list the council tax amount for each band.

Can I challenge the band my property is in?

If you want to challenge the council tax band your property is in, you can challenge it with the VOA.

You can do this on GOV.UK.

If you should be in a cheaper band, you may get a refund on some of what you've paid while you've lived there.

How to pay council tax

Your local authority will send you a council tax bill each year showing how much you need to pay. 

The bill will also include your address and your council tax number.

Most councils will let you pay your council tax:

  • online using a debit or credit card

  • over the phone using a debit or credit card

  • cheque

  • cash payment in shops that accept Paypoint, Payzone or Quickcards

  • monthly direct debit

Most people pay their council tax in 10 monthly payments. But you can ask your local authority to spread the cost over 12 monthly payments instead.

You may also be able to pay your year’s council tax bill in 2 payments, rather than every month.

Whichever way you want to pay, check your local council's website for information. They’ll explain what you need to do to set up your payments.

Council tax is charged per property. So if you live with other people you’ll need to decide how you'll split the payment between you. 

Everyone named on the council tax bill will be responsible for the total cost.

Make payments on time

Make sure you pay your council tax bill on time. 

If you miss a monthly payment, some authorities might ask for the full year’s payment upfront.

If you fall behind on your council tax, your local authority will contact you to remind you to pay.

If you still do not make a payment after the reminder, you may be taken to court.

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Sources

¹ Gov.uk: Understand how council tax bands are assessed

² Gov.uk: Council tax bands

³ Scottish Assessors Association: Council tax bands

⁴ Westminster.gov.uk: Council tax bands and rates

⁵ Counciltax.info: 2020/21 Durham Council Tax Band Charges

⁶ Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government: Council tax levels set by local authorities: England 2020-21

⁷ Which?: Council Tax Calculator

Gov.uk: Challenge your council tax band