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How to get a council tax refund

Find out whether it's worth appealing against your council tax bill, whether you can get a council tax refund and how the process works.

In this article
Can I make a council tax appeal? How to make a council tax appeal  Challenging my council tax band
Challenging the valuation of my property Could my council tax increase? Can I get a refund on overpaid council tax?

Can I make a council tax appeal?

Sometimes, you may receive a council tax bill that you don't believe is fair.

You can lodge an appeal if your bill is incorrect – for instance, if you have not been given a discount that should apply. 

Alternatively, you can also appeal if you are being sent bills but are not the person liable to pay council tax – for example, if you are a landlord and your tenants should be paying council tax

Finally, you may be able to appeal if your home should be an exempt dwelling – ie. it is occupied exclusively by full-time students, it is armed forces accommodation etc.

You can’t appeal just because you think your council tax bill is too expensive. You can use our 2021 council tax calculator to work out how much your bill is likely to be.


How to make a council tax appeal 

The first step towards appealing your council tax is writing to your council to explain why your bill is incorrect.

If they reject your appeal, you can apply in writing to the Valuation Tribunal to request a review - you can visit their website here.

Below, we explain the process of appealing your council tax bill.

Challenging my council tax band

One way of reducing your council tax bill is to get your property revalued and moved into a cheaper band. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for England and Wales deems the following reasons acceptable for making a challenge:

  • 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.
  • A change made to the valuation by the VOA is wrong or hasn't been made.
  • The date of a change made by the VOA is wrong.
  • There's been a change to the property or surrounding area that should be shown in the rateable value.
  • A property should be removed from, or added to, the rating list.
  • The valuation is wrong due to a legal decision on another property.
  • The property details are wrong or incomplete.
  • The valuation was wrong when the rating list was created - more on this below.

You can’t usually make a challenge on the same grounds more than once – but this might be possible if it has a different effective date. 

For example, if nearby long-term roadworks have affected the rateable value of your property, you can submit one challenge for works that started on 31 December 2017, and a new challenge for roadworks starting on a different date.

Appeal against your council tax band you could save £1865 infographic

Be warned, however, that the Valuation Office may decide that your property belongs in a higher band - and may increase your band instead of reducing it.

To challenge your tax band, follow the process set out above for challenging your council tax bill.

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

Challenging the valuation of my property

If you believe that your property’s original valuation was a mistake - and you, therefore, deserve to be in a lower band - you’ll need to persuade the Valuation Office Agency this is the case. 

To do this, you will need to check the band of similar properties near your own and see if they are any lower than yours. 

You can check other properties' bands on the VOA's website.

If you think there is a discrepancy, you should then check the 1991 value of your home (2003 in Wales) 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.

Could my council tax increase?

Short answer: yes. 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.

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.

Can I get a refund on overpaid council tax?

If the VOA finds that your property has incorrectly been put in a higher band, not only will your council tax bills be lowered in future, but your council will refund you the money you've overpaid.

This should be backdated to whenever you began paying for the wrong band - usually when you moved into the property. 

Repayments will be backdated to 1993 at most, as this is when council tax payments were first introduced.