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How council tax works

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Written by Dom James, Financial Content Writer

28 December 2018

If you live in the UK, you normally have to pay council tax, but the cost differs depending on where you live. Here is everything you need to know about council tax.

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What is council tax?

It is a property tax charged by councils in the UK. The tax is used to pay for local services and repairs, like waste disposal, police and fire departments etc.

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 it?

To quickly find out how much council tax you need to pay, contact your local council.

The amount you pay is based on the value of your property, and 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.

Tax bands in England

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

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

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 it?

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

  • Cash

  • 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.

Some councils let you pay monthly*, twice yearly 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 post code.

* This could be over 10 or 12 months. If you have a preference, speak to your council.

Discounts and exclusions

  • 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.

  • Disability discount: If you are severely mentally impaired, or care for someone who is (not a spouse, partner of 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

Yes, they are exempt from paying, but you will still have to pay it. Speak to your local council to find out how they will charge you for council tax.

Tell your council that you have moved and they will cancel your council tax agreement. Then set up a new agreement with your new property's council.

Challenge it with your local council if you think you are in the wrong tax band. Here is more on what to do if you think are paying too much council tax.

Help stretch your budget that little bit further by making the most of your savings. Compare market leading savings accounts to find the best savings rates for you.

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