How council tax works

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Find out how council tax works and who needs to pay it in our guide.
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If you live in the UK, you normally have to pay council tax, but the cost differs depending on where you live and a string of other factors. Here is everything you need to know about council tax.

What is council tax?

Council tax is a property tax charged by councils in the UK. The tax is used to pay for local services and repairs, like waste disposal, libraries and education, police and fire departments, transport and highways and so on.

You usually pay council tax if:

  • You own or rent a home in the UK

  • You are over 18 years old

If you have just moved into a new property, contact your local council and let them know. They will then send you a bill in the post.

How much is council tax?

To find out how much council tax you need to pay, it’s best to contact your local council.

The amount you pay is based on the value of your property and where you live, and is calculated using tiered tax bands.

What is your tax band?

Properties were put into council tax bands based on their values on 1st April 1991 for England and Scotland, and 1st April 2003 for Wales.

You can work out what your property's value would have been by using the Nationwide House Price Index, even if it was built after the calculation date.

Updated 18 December 2021
Tax bandProperty value (1st April 1991)
AUp to £40,000
B£40,001 to £52,000
C£52,001 to £68,000
D£68,001 to £88,000
E£88,001 to £120,000
F£120,001 to £160,000
G£160,001 to £320,000
HOver £320,000

For example, a property in the West Midlands worth £250,000 at the end of 2016, was worth £80,958 in April 1991, putting it in tax band D. Calculate your property's value from 1991 here.

Tax bands in Wales

Updated 18 December 2021
Tax bandProperty value (1st April 2003)
A Up to £44,000
B£44,001 to £65,000
C£65,001 to £91,000
D£91,001 to £123,000
E£123,001 to £162,000
F£162,001 to £223,000
G£223,001 to £324,000
H£324,001 to £424,000
IOver £424,000

For example, a property in Wales worth £250,000 at the end of 2016, was worth £150,191 in April 2003, putting it in tax band E. Calculate your property's value from 2003 here.

Tax bands in Scotland

Updated 18 December 2021
Tax bandProperty value (1st April 1991)
AUp to £27,000
B£27,001 to £35,000
C£35,001 to £45,000
D£45,001 to £58,000
E£58,001 to £80,000
F£80,001 to £106,000
G£106,001 to £212,000
HOver £212,000

For example, a property in Scotland worth £250,000 at the end of 2016, was worth £82,954 in April 1991, putting it in tax band F. Calculate your property's value from 1991 here.

How can you pay your council tax?

There are several ways you can pay for your council tax, including:

  • Cash - using Paypoint, Payzone or Quickcards at post offices, banks and newsagents

  • Cheque

  • Direct debit

Whichever way you want to pay, contact your local council who will explain what you need to do to set up your payments.

Your council tax bill will be issued in April each year and it’s usually paid in 10 monthly instalments. If preferred, you may be able to pay it in 12 monthly instalments or in one yearly amount. 

You do not pay more for splitting your payments up.

Find your local council's website and payment options by using gov.uk and searching by your postcode.

Are there any discounts or exclusions?

You may be able to get a reduction in your council tax in certain situations:

  • Single person discount: If you are the only person over 18 living in your home, you could get a 25% discount on your council tax bill. If you’re the only person living in your home and you’re under 18, you will usually get a 50% discount.

  • Disability discount: If you are severely mentally impaired, or care for someone who is (not a spouse, partner or child under 18), you are exempt from paying council tax.

  • Full-time student: If your course lasts for at least 1 year, or involves 21 hours of study per week, you could be exempt from paying any council tax.

Learn more about council tax discounts and exemptions at gov.uk

Council tax FAQs

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