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Should you appeal your council tax bill?

One in five challenges to council tax valuations resulted in a lower bill

Council tax

Some 10,670 households managed to cut their council tax bill in the past year by challenging the government’s valuation of their property, latest figures from the Valuation Office show.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, one in five families who appealed their tax bill were granted a lower valuation, out of a total of 52,500 challenges in England and Wales.

The vast majority of appeals resulted in no change, but a handful backfired, leaving 30 households in a higher council tax band.

Residents had the best chance of appealing for a lower council tax valuation in Wales, where 36% of challenges lead to a lower valuation, pushing down bills for 780 households. In London, just 17% of challenges succeeded, but the capital also recorded a high number of appeals, with 910 properties successfully lowering their band.

Find out how you can challenge your council tax valuation or whether you qualify for a discount.

Where are the easiest places to cut your council tax bill?

How much council tax should I be paying?

Your council tax bill will depend on three things:

  • Your council tax band: This is based on your property value, as determined by the Valuation Office. There are seven council tax bands in England and Scotland. Wales has a slightly different council tax banding structure. Confusingly, valuations aren’t based on the current property value, but what the property was worth in 1991 for England and Scotland, and 1993 in Wales.

Scotland

Band Value of property (based on values in 1991)
A Up 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
H £212,001 and over

England

Band Value of property (as of 1 April 1991)
A Up 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
H £320,001 and above

Wales

Band Value (as of 1 April 1993)
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
I £424,001 and above

 

  • Your local council tax rates: Each local authority sets its own council tax rates, which is (at least theoretically) linked to how much the local government wants to spend on services. You can find rates for your area using this tool on gov.uk.
  • Discounts: Some people, such as the owners of empty properties, or people who live alone, qualify for discounts on standard council tax bills for the area. You can find a summary of the main discounts below.

Find out more: Council tax bands – how valuations affect your payments

How do I appeal a council tax bill?

You might want to consider appealing your council tax band if the value of your home has changed substantially. This might be because:

  • You’ve extended, or reduced the size of your home
  • You split a property into several small properties – each will need to be assessed by the valuation office
  • You have merged several smaller properties, such as flats, into a larger property
  • You’re aware that a similar property in your area has been re-banded
  • Changes to the area, like a new road, significantly affect your property value
  • You start (or stop) operating a business from part of your home

To lodge a challenge, visit gov.uk/council-tax-bands and enter your postcode to find your property. You’ll see a link to submit a request for a band review.

Once you’ve submitted your challenge, you should receive a ruling within two months. You must keep paying at the current rate until you are told your appeal has been successful.

Find out more: Disputing a council tax band – how to lower your bill

How else can I cut my council tax?

Asking the Valuation Office to review your property value is one way to cut your council tax. You may also qualify for a discount on the full rate for one of the following reasons:

  • Single occupant’s discount: If you live buy yourself, you’ll pay 25% less than the full amount
  • Students: if only full-time students live in your property, you can apply for a 100% council tax exemption. Note that if one person isn’t a student, that person will only qualify for the single occupant’s discount
  • Exemptions for disabled people: People with severe mental impairments don’t need to pay council tax. You can also apply for an exemption if you are a live-in carer for someone who isn’t your spouse, partner or child.
  • Discounts for disabled people: People with other disabilities might qualify for a lower tax band, if they live in a larger property to accommodate their disability.
  • Second homes: Some councils charge discounted rates for empty properties or second homes. You’ll need to check with your local council, as others charge higher council tax rates to empty home owners.
  • If you are an executor: If you’re administering probate for someone who has passed away, you won’t need to pay council tax for the first six months.

Find out more: Reducing your council tax bill – read more on discounts

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