Ways to reduce Council Tax
Council Tax is a property-based tax paid to local authorities. If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to discounts and exemptions on your Council Tax.
How is Council Tax worked out?
How much Council Tax you pay depends on:
- your local council, which who sets an overall amount each year
- the ‘band’ assigned to your home based on its value. There are 8 Council Tax bands, ranging from A to H. A is the lowest band with the lowest charges and H attracts the highest charges
- whether you’re eligible for a reduced bill.
What qualifies for a reduction in Council Tax?
There are some circumstances where you may get a discount on your Council Tax. The amount of discount varies.
If you live alone
The full Council Tax is calculated assuming there are 2 or more people living in each home – if you live alone, you should apply to your local council for a discount. You could get a 25% discount, regardless of your financial circumstances.
If you live with someone under 18 or a student
Council Tax isn’t calculated on anyone aged under 18, full-time students, student nurses and some apprentices or trainees.
If you’re a carer
Carers who look after someone in the household for at least 35 hours a week and who meet additional criteria may be disregarded for Council Tax purposes. Contact your local authority for eligibility criteria. This does not apply if the person receiving care is the partner of the carer, or is the carer’s child aged under 18.
If there are major changes to your home’s value
You may be able to get your home moved to a lower Council Tax band if your home has decreased in value. For example, if you’ve made home adaptations for a disabled person, or if a motorway is built nearby. Contact your local office of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) if you think your home’s Council Tax band should be changed
If you change the way you pay
Although the total year’s amount will stay the same, you can request that your bill be split over 12 months (instead of 10 months) so that each month’s bill is less. Alternatively, if you can afford to pay a year’s worth in one lump sum, check if you can get a discount.
Apply for Council Tax Support
You may be eligible to claim Council Tax Support, sometimes called Council Tax Reduction, if you’re on a low income or claiming certain benefits.
Contact your local authority to find out if you’re eligible for any discounts and how you can apply.
Could I be exempt from paying Council Tax?
You won't pay Council Tax if:
- you live in a care home or hostel
- you are in hospital on a permanent basis
- your home is unoccupied because you have gone to live somewhere else to provide or receive personal care due to age, illness or disability
- your home is wholly occupied by one or more people who have a severe mental impairment (e.g. dementia). If you live with someone who has dementia, then you’ll be treated as a sole occupant as they will be disregarded, but you won’t be exempt.
Talk to your local authority about your eligibility and how you can apply for an exemption.
What if I can’t pay my Council Tax bill?
Council Tax is compulsory and must be paid. If you don’t pay it or you fall behind on your payments, the council will send you a reminder letter. If you don’t pay after a few reminders then the council can take you to court.
If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax because of financial difficulties, then seek advice as soon as you can to get some help. Talk to your local Age UK or Citizens Advice, or see our debt advice section.
Councils may have a hardship fund available for people in financial difficulty. Contact your local council to find out what funds might be available, if any, and how to apply.