• With the average council tax bill up by up to 4% from Friday, new research1 from money.co.uk reveals that more than one in eight (12%) people have challenged their banding

  • Of those that challenged their bill, 41% got their bill reduced and half (49%) found that their bill stayed the same. A canny 3% had their challenge rejected but appealed. 3% were wrongly told they couldn't challenge their banding

  • Of those that got their bill reduced, 59% reported they received a reduction of around 18% - based on the average bill in England this is 2762 less to pay each year

  • More than two thirds (67%) of those that received a rebate had it backdated - 11% of these went right back to 1993. Although one in three, (33%) of those that got their bill reduced did not get a backdated refund

  • Whilst there is a risk of being re-banded to a higher bracket, Government figures3 state that they received 53,000 challenges in 2014/15, 23% of which resulted in a bill decrease - just 0.1% of challenges resulted in an increase

  • If you've never checked your council tax bill, please use our guide to find out if you're eligible to get some money back. If you move down a band and you've lived in your house since 1993 you could get up to 5,5394 back

With council tax bills across England set to rise by an average of 3.1% (46) tomorrow, the highest increase in several years, new research1 from financial comparison website money.co.uk reveals that more than one in eight consumers (12%) has challenged their council tax banding.

41% of these were moved to a different council tax band and received a rebate. Our survey also revealed that 67% of those that received a rebate had it backdated. Over half of these (56%) got a rebate backdated to the date they moved into the property and 11% back to 1993.

However, 33% of those that got their bill reduced did not get a backdated refund, they just got it for one year receiving 276 each on average.

Based on Valuation Office Agency (VOA) figures, potentially 4 million worth of council tax was clawed back by bill payers last year alone as 23% of the 53,000 challenges raised received a rebate.

The total value of a rebate could be 5,539 if a household was moved from band E to band D and the refund was dated back to 1993 when the bands were first allocated. Alternatively, for just one year you could get a rebate of 329.45. This could be backdated to the year you moved into the property. With 400,000 homes in England thought to be in the wrong council tax band, it could be a lucrative exercise.

So how accurate are council tax bandings?

With most homes in England placed into a council tax band over 23 years ago (1993) and most never being reviewed since, it's hardly surprising that many consumers could be paying the wrong amount of council tax.

Whilst there is a risk of being re-banded to a higher bracket, Government figures3 state that they received 53,000 challenges in 2014/15, 23% of which resulted in a decrease - just 0.1% resulted in an increase.

Six crucial points to research before you challenge your council tax band, all sources can be found in our council tax guide:

  1. Check which council tax band you are currently in, this can be done easily via Gov.uk.

  2. Find out if your home has been re-banded since 1993.

  3. Check the banding of other properties nearby and see if you are all paying the same. Focus on those that are a similar size and age. Again, you can do this on the Gov.uk website for any address.

  4. Find out the valuation of your home in 1991 when the bands were first confirmed, your home may have been set at the wrong band from the start.

  5. Use a house price calculator to find out the value of your home in 1991.

  6. Whilst this might not be exactly the same as the value used by the VOA, it will give you an indication of accuracy.

  7. Consider any major work you have carried out on your house to increase the value that could work against you in an appeal. Research is key to appealing your council tax band.

How to appeal your council tax banding?

If all of the above information appears favourable, you should contact your local Valuation Office to discuss your appeal. Or, if you feel your property banding can be challenged based on one of the official reasons set out on the VOAs website you can submit an online proposal to have your home reassessed.

You can search for your property and click on the link to make a formal challenge. Read our guide for more essential info that will maximise your chance of getting a rebate if you're eligible.

Can I get money off my bill if I'm in the correct band?

There are several situations where people receive discounts on their council tax bill without challenging it;

  • Single persons discount will apply if you are the only adult living in the property

  • If you are a student living with other students or have just one adult in full time work in the property

  • If you are disabled

  • If you own a property which is empty and unfurnished (policy varies between councils)

  • If you are on a low income

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, comments

"Council tax has been frozen for several years for many households so today's price hike will be quite a shock to the system for bill payers. There's no longer a Government incentive to keep council tax increases to a minimum so the hike could well be a taste of things to come.

"So, if you think you might be on the wrong council tax now is the perfect time to check and challenge it if you think you're paying too much. As long as you carry out your research first to make sure you don't run the risk of being moved into a more expensive band - there could be thousands of pounds waiting for you to claim.

"If you've never checked your council tax bill, please use our guide to find out if you're eligible to get some money back. If you move down a band and you've lived in your house since 1993 you could potentially get as much as 5,539 back."

Notes to Editors:
1. Research carried out amongst 1,600 respondents on the money.co.uk panel between Tuesday 22nd March and Thursday 31st March. 1,476 members of the panel claimed they paid council tax.
2. 276 refund is calculated based on the above survey.
* Of those surveyed, 42% got their bill reduced. Of those, 69% had their bill reduced by an average of 18%.
* 18% of 1,484 (average band D 2015/16) = 267.12
3. Council Tax: Challenges and Changes in England and Wales, 2014-15
4. Using the average council tax bill for band D from 1993/94 to 2015/2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-council-tax and basing calculation on a band D household being wrongly assessed as band E from 1993/94. Or over paying by 22.2% for 23 years.
5. Using VOA data which shows that 12,380 successfully challenged their banding. Calculation based on a decrease from band E to band D in 2014/2015. This equates to an average of drop of 326 which multiplied by 12,380 = 4,035,880.