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Paying your Council Tax

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 16 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Paying Your Council Tax

No one likes paying taxes but paying your council tax means that you are paying for vital facilities within your community. Paying your council tax means that services such as the police, refuse collections, schools and fire services can exist. Basically everyone who owns or rents a home should pay council tax although there are a few exceptions.

Who Pays Council Tax

If you are a home owner or rent a property and are over the age of 18 then you are liable to pay council tax. This rule applies to all domestic properties regardless of the size or type of property. It doesn’t matter if you live in a five bedroom house or a houseboat; you will still have to pay this tax.

How Council Tax is Calculated

Council tax is determined by the value of the property; how much the property is worth, and is then broken down into pricing bands. The lowest band would be Band A, which is applicable to properties under £40,000. This rises alphabetically up to Band H, which is for property with a value of more than £320,000. How much you pay is not only determined by the value of the property but is also set by your own council; different councils have different tax rates.

Exceptions to Council Tax

Each home will receive one council tax bill and the owner of the property or whoever rents the property will the liable payer. You must be over the age of 18 to be the liable payer. There are a few exceptions to council tax payments and this means that the occupier will either not pay council tax or will receive a discount on the bill. These exceptions can include:

  • One adult living alone in the home.
  • People with disabilities may be exempt or receive discounts.
  • A person who owns a property that is empty may receive a discount.
  • Exemptions for property occupied by students.
  • Unemployed or those on a low wage.

As with any government tax there is a long list of rules and regulations regarding council tax exemptions and discounts. Full details on eligibility and claiming for a discount or exemption can be obtained from your local council tax office.

Council Tax Arrears

Council tax arrears are regarded as very serious and should always be thought of as priority debts. There are numerous ways that the government will deal with people who have not paid their council tax. These can include arrestment of wages, implementing bankruptcy, sending bailiffs to the property or imposing a legal charge on the property where taxes are owed. The most serious consequence of not paying your council tax could be prison.

Making Repayments

If you find yourself in arrears with council tax payments it is vital that you contact your local council office and arrange for some form of payment plan. The longer you leave this debt the worse it will become and the more severe the consequences. Council tax is usually paid over 10 monthly payments and arrears can be added onto these payments. The council should take into account the amount you can afford to pay, and repayment rates can be extremely low.

Always Check Your Bill

Like any other organisation council offices make mistakes; some would say they make more mistakes than others. A recent investigation into council tax payments showed that millions of homes may have been placed in the wrong tax band and that millions of people had been overpaying on their council tax. This finding has led to widespread challenging of the council tax system. Always be sure to check you are within the right council tax band and that your payments reflect this.

Paying Your Council Tax

Council tax payments can be made by direct debit through your bank or building society, or directly to your local council tax office. Setting up a direct debit is the best way to make sure payments are not missed but always make sure to keep a record of your payments. Council tax offices are notorious for not being able to “find” customer’s payment accounts if they are being challenged.

Paying your council tax is a necessary evil and the system has both its advocates and its critics. Regardless of whether or not you agree with this tax payment method you must still pay it. The consequences for not paying council taxes can be very severe indeed and should be avoided.

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