Council tax is one of the most hated taxes. And this year it is higher than ever. The average per dwelling in England is £1,578 a year, around £30 a week; in Wales it is £1,682, and in Scotland £1,302. So it’s more important than ever to make sure you are getting any discounts or reductions you’re entitled to.
If you live by yourself then your council tax is cut by a quarter. But you have to apply to your local council for it. Make sure it’s backdated for the time you have been living alone. Also, remember “alone” doesn’t mean you are the only person in the house. Others can live there, too, if they are exempt from paying council tax. That includes anyone under 18 (or aged 18 or 19 and still in education or just left school), full-time students including student nurses, live-in carers who are not the disabled person’s partner, and people who are severely mentally impaired. Any of those can live with you but you’ll still count as “alone” and get 25 per cent off.
If your home is bigger than normal because of your disability – perhaps with an extra bathroom, bigger kitchen or space for a wheelchair – you can get council tax reduced by one band, bringing it down by between ten and 18 per cent. If it’s already in the lowest band, you’ll get a reduction of 17 per cent. Apply to the council that bills you.
You can also get a reduction if you have a low income. The reduction is higher for anyone aged 66 or above. So once you reach that landmark
age make sure you apply again or get your existing reduction checked. In Scotland and Wales everyone on low incomes can get their tax reduced, sometimes to zero. In most of England, working-age people have to pay something – usually 20 per cent of the tax – even if their income is very low, though pensioners don’t. The rules differ between local authorities; check with your local council.
You can pay your bill in ten or 12 equal monthly instalments. If you have difficulty paying, councils have hardship funds that may be able to help.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column