Most people living in the UK pay Council Tax.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get a discount on your bill.
But how do you check if you’re eligible? We reveal what you need to know.
What is Council Tax?
Council Tax is an annual fee charged by councils in England, Scotland and Wales to fund public services, such as bin collections, schools and public libraries.
Typically, most people pay their Council Tax in 10 monthly instalments.
What you owe depends on the value of the property you live in, your personal circumstances and your local council’s tax rate.
The average annual Council Tax for a UK property in 2023 is £1,578.
What Council Tax band is my property in?
Properties in England, Wales and Scotland are grouped by bands which helps determine how much Council Tax you have to pay.
The bands reflect the property’s value and are based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.
For new builds or for properties that have an extension or have been renovated, their Council Tax band will need to be decided by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
The VOA is also the authority you should contact if you’d like to dispute your Council Tax band.
Who qualifies for a Council Tax discount?
Council Tax bands assume there are two working adults sharing a property, but this isn’t the case for every household.
This means that if you are a student, are disabled or retired, you are eligible for a discount on your Council Tax.
Other discounts include:
If you’re an adult living on your own, you will qualify for a Council Tax discount of 25%.
Councils offer reductions of up to 100% for low-income households, but the definition of ‘low-income’ varies across different local authorities. You will typically need to have less than £16,000 in savings.
If you’re experiencing an unexpected financial hardship or exceptional circumstances, such as losing your job, you may be eligible for temporary Council Tax relief.
There is a Council Tax reduction for pensioners, though it differs between local authorities.
If you qualify for Guarantee Credit as part of your Pension Credit, you may be exempt from Council Tax.
And if you qualify for the savings part of Pension Credit, you may receive a discount.
Who qualifies for a Council Tax exemption?
Some people may be eligible to pay a discounted amount on their Council Tax bill.
You may be able to get 50% off your bill if everyone living in your household is 'disregarded.’
You’ll get 25% off your bill if you pay Council Tax and you either live alone or everyone else in your home is disregarded.
You qualify as disregarded if you are:
Under 18 years old
On certain apprentice schemes
18 or 19 years old and in full-time education
A full-time student at college or university
Under 25 years old and get funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
A student nurse
A foreign language assistant registered with the British Council
Severely mentally impaired
A live-in carer for someone who is not your partner, spouse, or child under 18
Is anyone exempt from paying Council Tax altogether?
You can be exempt from Council Tax if you live in a care home or hostel, are in hospital on a permanent basis or your home is wholly occupied by one or more people who have a severe mental impairment.
What if I can’t afford to pay Council Tax?
If you can’t pay your Council Tax bill, first consider whether you might qualify for any additional support.
Some local authorities offer a hardship fund for exceptional circumstances, so it’s important to speak to your council.
Do you have to pay Council Tax on an empty property?
If you own a property that is empty and unfurnished, you can claim a Council Tax discount of up to 50%.
If your home is empty for more than two years, councils in England and Wales can charge double the amount of Council Tax on the property – and more for the longer the house remains unoccupied.
Which empty properties are exempt from Council Tax?
Properties that are exempt from Council Tax, as long as they’re empty, include any that are:
Undergoing major repair work to make the property safe to live in (up to 12 months)
Part of the estate of someone who has died (up to six months after the grant of probate)
Repossessed, taken into possession by a mortgage lender or owned by a liable person who is a trustee in bankruptcy
Do you have to pay Council Tax on a second home?
Yes, you will need to pay Council Tax on a second home.
Most holiday homes qualify for a 10% reduction on Council Tax but this discount changes across different councils.
Some people may have a residence as part of their job, such as live-in publicans or clergy members.
They can qualify for a 50% reduction on their Council Tax from some local authorities.