Council Tax Refunds
Your council tax pays for a whole host of local services from the police and fire services to libraries, leisure and recreation to rubbish collection and disposal. However imagine the fury if you found out that you were paying more than your neighbours. Well this could be the case with news that up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland could be in the wrong council tax band.
There are ways however to rectify the situation and have your council tax band lowered and your monthly payments reduced. You could also receive a rebate for the overpayments you have been making.
Do your research
Before you jump in and start demanding a refund it is essential you do a bit of research first to see if you are in the correct council tax band. There are two ways in which to do this and we recommend you do both:
- Check what the neighbours are paying
- Check the value of your property
Keeping up with the Jones
When it comes to council tax payments it can often pay to be a nosey neighbour! You can check the council tax band of you and your neighbours by visiting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). It might also be worth having a look at neighbouring streets with houses of similar size and value to see if there are any differences there.
What’s it worth?
Council tax bands were originally calculated in 1991 and assigned by using the property’s value at this time.
|Council Tax Band||Property Values (as set in April 1991)||Current annual charges (2014/15)|
|A||Up to £40,000||£1056.14|
|B||£40,001 - £52,000||£1232.17|
|C||£52,001 - £68,000||£1408.19|
|D||£68,001 – £88,000||£1584.22|
|E||£88,001 – £120,000||£1936.27|
|F||£120,001 – £160,000||£2288.31|
|G||£161,001 – £212,000||£2640.36|
You can find out how much your property was worth in 1991 by using Nationwide’s House Price Index Calculator. If your property value in 1991 doesn’t match the assigned council tax band then you could be paying too much (or even too little!) for your council tax.
Beware of the risks
It is very important that you understand there is no guarantee when it comes council tax refunds and band changes. Even if it comes up that you are paying more than your neighbours and/or that the 1991 property value does not match the council tax band, it does not mean you are in the wrong band. It could in fact mean that your neighbours are wrongly in a lower band and any enquiry could result in them having to pay more!
If the property has been extended or had work which has significantly increased its value in some way then this could affect the council tax band.
Challenging the band
If, after taking all this into consideration, you still believe you are in the wrong council tax band then you need to contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on 0300 0505 505 or by contacting them through the website. In some circumstances enquiries can be sorted out immediately.
Typically though the VOA will review your band and write to you within two months to inform you of their decision. Remember there is a risk that during this reassessment that your band could go up as well as down.
There is no 6-month time limit, despite what they may say!
If you’re told you can’t challenge the band because you’ve been living in the property for more than six months then push back. The Local Listings Office has a legal duty to ensure all property bands are correct and should investigate regardless of the time period.
If you are still having your request refused, you can complain to the Adjudicator’s Office.
Council tax cuts
There are several situations where you may be entitled to a reduction/discount on your council tax including:
- Single Adult
- Students (all residents must be full time students)
- Disabled people
- Second homes
- Empty properties.
For more details about these exemptions and discount, visit the www.gov.uk