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Disputing a council tax bill

By Joe Elvin

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Disputing a council tax bill

Explore whether it's worth appealing against your council tax bill, and how this process works.

If you disagree with a council tax bill you can appeal against it. It is important to continue paying your council tax instalments while the appeal is being considered.

You can appeal if:

  • your bill is incorrect, perhaps because you have not been given a discount that should apply
  • you are being sent bills but are not the person liable to pay council tax
  • your home should be an exempt dwelling.

Find out more: understanding council tax - learn what properties are eligible for council tax exemptions

How to appeal

The first step is to write to your council, explaining your complaint. This is known as the 'representations stage'.

If you disagree with the council’s decision, or it fails to respond within two months, you can appeal to a valuation tribunal. For the address of the tribunal contact your council.

The tribunal will ask you to make your appeal in writing, and may then ask you to appear at a hearing. These will normally take no more than one day. There is no charge, unless you decide to employ a solicitor or other representative to put your case.

Useful link: Valuation Tribunal - visit the official Valuation Tribunal's website to lodge your dispute

Getting your property revalued

One way of reducing your council tax bill is to get your property revalued and moved into a cheaper band. There are two reasons why this might be possible. 

The first is where there have been changes to your property since the original valuation, such as part of it being demolished, or if it has been converted into flats. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for England and Wales publishes a list of 14 reasons why it might consider an application of this kind. 

Properties can also be moved up into a higher banding by the VOA when they have been extended or altered and planning permission has been required. In these cases the new banding applies only when the property is sold. 

Useful link: Valuation Office Agency for England and Wales - find out more about property valuation

Challenging the original valuation

Another way of changing your property’s band is to persuade the Valuation Office Agency that the original valuation was a mistake. To do this, you will need to check the band of similar properties near yours and see if they are any lower than yours. You can search this on the VOA's website.

If you think there is a discrepancy, you should then check the 1991 value of your home and compare this to the range for your current band. To request a band review you need to contact your local valuation office and explain why you think your banding is wrong.

Warning: you could increase your council tax bill

Be aware that changing your home’s valuation could result in a higher council tax bill in some cases. A band review could place your property in a lower or higher band, or leave it unchanged. 

If the VOA puts you into a higher band, you could find yourself paying more council tax as a result. 

If you apply for the VOA to review your council tax banding, you should get a formal written decision. You then have three months in which to consider this and to apply to the valuation tribunal if you are not satisfied. 

  • Last updated: April 2017
  • Updated by: Joe Elvin

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