Council Tax - can you get a discount?

15/08/15 This week we’ve been contacted by Paul, who has just bought a doer-upper home that’s going to be empty while he renovates it. He wants to know whether he’s going to be entitled to any discount...

Council Tax

The issue here is that many rules surrounding council tax are set by the individual local authorities concerned, so what discounts – if any – are available is hugely variable. That’s why I thought it was worth going through the potential discount options. Remember, though, that you always need to contact your local council to find out precisely what rules apply to you.

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Possible discount options

Some property is exempt from council tax. You may be able to get a discount, for example, if you have a second home or an empty property – it's up to your council to decide. Councils can charge extra council tax for empty properties, however.

You might be eligible pay less council tax for a property you own or rent that’s not your main home.

Councils can also give furnished second homes or holiday homes a discount of up to 50%. Contact your council to find out if you can get a discount - it’s up to them how much you can get.

Empty properties

You’ll usually have to pay council tax on an empty home, but your council can decide to give you a discount - the amount is up to them. You’ll need to contact your council to ask about a discount.

Your council can charge up to 50% extra Council Tax if your home has been empty for 2 years or more (unless it’s an annexe or you’re in the armed forces).

If you’re selling an empty property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you won’t have to pay council tax for up to 6 months from the day you get probate (the right to deal with the estate).

Council tax banding

All homes in the UK have a council tax banding that is determined by the Valuation Office. The bands are based on the value of the property in April 1991. For Wales, the value is based on prices in April 2003. The bands are:

A Up to £40,000
B Over £40,000 and up to £52,000
C Over £52,000 and up to £68,000
D Over £68,000 and up to £88,000
E Over £88,000 and up to £120,000
F Over £120,000 and up to £160,000
G Over £160,000 and up to £320,000
H Over £320,000

When do you pay council tax?

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax if you’re 18 or over and own or rent a home.

A full council tax bill is based on at least two adults living in a home. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill. You’ll get 25% off your bill if you count as an adult for council tax and either live on your own or no-one else in your home counts as an adult

Council tax discounts

You’ll usually get a 50% discount if there is no-one living in your home, including you, who counts as an adult.

Full-time students

You won’t have to pay any council tax if everyone in your home, including you, is a full-time student. 

Who doesn’t count as an adult?

These people are not counted as adults for council tax purposes:

• Children under 18
• People on some apprentice schemes
• 18 and 19-year-olds in full-time education
• Full-time students
• Young people under 25 who get funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency
• Student nurses
• Foreign language assistants registered with the British Council
• People with a severe mental impairment
• Live-in carers who look after someone who isn’t their partner, spouse or child
• Diplomats

Homes exempt from council tax

Properties that may be exempt include:

• Condemned property
• Property that has been legally re-possessed by a mortgage lender
• Property is unoccupied, see below for more details
• A holiday caravan or boat that's on a property where council tax is paid
• Property which is occupied only by people with severe mental impairment
• A self-contained annex or ‘granny flat’ where the person who lives in it is a dependent relative of the owner of the main property.

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