PMQs: Boris Johnson responds to council tax criticism
Your Council Tax pays for several services, including police, public libraries and street cleaning, and is organised through local councils across the UK. Any property which is classified as a “dwelling” has to pay council tax, including houseboats and mobile homes – if they are a main residence.
There are varying amounts of Council Tax, organised in bands from A to H, with every home classed as one of these.
The band you are in determines the amount you pay, and is dependent on how much your home is worth.
You can check your Council Tax band via the Government’s website, here.
All you need to do is pop your postcode into the handy tool and it will tell you which band you are in.
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Council Tax band: Are you paying too much Council Tax? How to check
With the news of a five percent tax increase on Council Tax from April, some may be wondering if they are paying the correct amount.
Labour said the tax rise was a “£2bn council tax bombshell” which would adversely impact millions of families come April.
Councils will have to decide whether to make cuts, or raise the tax by the maximum 4.99 percent.
However, you could already be paying too much council tax – with official figures showing one in 20 homes are in too high a tax band – and there are ways to check.
Council Tax band: Your Council Tax pays for several services, including police, public libraries and street cleaning
Are you paying too much Council Tax? How to check
Council Tax bands for most homes were issued in 1993, and no reassessment has taken place since.
Therefore it is feasible in more than 20 years your home’s value has changed, and you may be in the wrong band.
If this is the case, money.co.uk says any change in value will not have been reflected in any calculation of your council tax bills.
Official figures show one in 20 homes are in too high a council tax band, and some reports even suggest this figure is much higher.
So, if you believe you are in the wrong band there are a couple of things you should do before approaching the council.
First, Check which Council Tax band your home is in: you can do this quite easily via the GOV.UK website.
Next, check your home’s history: your home may have been re-banded (since 1993), e.g. if it was knocked down and rebuilt at any stage.
And also, check the banding of nearby properties: particularly looking at homes that are the same age and size.
Council Tax band: With the news of a five percent tax increase on Council Tax from April, some may be wondering if they are paying the correct amount
If after your research you find your home is in a higher band than nearby properties, there may be some valid reasons why.
If your home has been extended or structurally improved, this could increase the value.
After these steps, if you believe you are in the wrong tax band and it should be lowered you should contact your local Valuation Officer.
Once made aware of your claim, the Valuation Office needs to consider your reasons for believing your home is in the wrong band.
Council Tax band: There are varying amounts of Council Tax, organised in bands from A to H, with every home classed as one of these
Depending on the circumstances you may get an answer straight away, or the Valuation Office may undertake a more detailed ‘band review’.
In most cases, you will be informed of the outcome of this review in writing.
There are other ways you can lower your council tax bills, depending on your living situation.
- If you are disabled
- If the property is empty
- If you are a student, living with other students or the household has one adult in full-time employment
- If you are the only adult in the home
Martin Lewis says ‘some people owed £1,000’ in council tax
If you are worried about the tax hike, what can you do?
With the impending Council Tax increase, Britons may be wondering how they can be savvier with their money.
Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk gave his advice on how to cut back, and where to turn for help.
Mr Haggi said: “If you are concerned about the impact that the tax increase could have on your income, there are some steps you can take to help cut down on regular bills and reduce the possibility of building up debt.
“The first thing to do if you’re trying to save is check what financial assistance you’re eligible for.
Council Tax band: Your area and your house value determines how much council tax you pay
“Many credit card providers have started giving payment holidays to help customers through COVID induced debts, and some are even waiving certain fees if you can prove COVID related financial problems.
“There are often hidden costs building up that you may not be aware of. Given the amount of disruption to our daily lives over the last year, you might be paying for gym subscriptions, fast delivery services or streaming sites that you haven’t used in months.
“They can often add up, and many services require at least a month’s notice before you can cancel them, so don’t wait to check.
“See what you could switch, in order to save.
“Many service providers like energy, mobile and broadband offer cashback or a switching fee – doing a quick check for the latest deals could provide you with a small cash boost, as well as a monthly saving moving forward.
“Finally, now many of us have adjusted to working from home, it’s become increasingly clear that even if lockdown restrictions lift, many of us won’t be travelling as much as we used to.
“If your car has been sitting on the driveway for months and is likely to stay there – there’s no need to pay as much to maintain it.
“If you apply for SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) for your car – you will no longer have to pay either road tax or insurance, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds over the next few months.”