Most people who rent a flat or house have to pay council tax direct to the council. Some people might qualify for a reduction, discount or exemption.
What is council tax?
Council tax is a tax on domestic properties and is collected by local authorities. Each property is valued and put into a valuation band. A different amount of council tax is charged on each band.
To find out which tax band your property is in visit Gov.UK.
Generally, the person occupying the property, so long as they are aged 18 or over, will be the person responsible for paying the council tax.
Can I get help paying for council tax?
Not everyone will have to pay the full amount of council tax. There are three ways in which your council tax bill may be reduced. These are:
- if your property is Exempt from council tax
- if you are eligible for a Discount
- if you are entitled to a Council Tax Reduction.
Some properties can be exempt from council tax. These include where :
- all the occupants are full time university or college students
- all the residents are under the age of 18.
If your property is exempt it means your liability for council tax is reduced to zero, regardless of your income or how much savings you have.
Since the 1 April 2019, care leavers under the age of 25 have been exempt from paying council tax in all areas of Wales.
Single persons discount
If only one person lives in a property they will get a 25% discount on the council tax bill.
When working out how many people live in a property, some people are not counted. These are called disregarded people. If everyone who lives in the property is disregarded, there will be a 50% discount on the bill. Disregarded people include:
- full-time students
- care workers
- those who are aged 18 or under and someone is entitled to child benefit for them.
People diagnosed with a Severe Mental Impairment (SMI)
Any person diagnosed with an SMI will be eligible to a discount on their council tax, provided they are entitled to certain benefits (such as, personal independence payment (PIP) or incapacity benefit).
Conditions that can lead to an SMI include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, severe learning difficulties, a stroke and other forms of dementia.
The discount will be 100% if the person is living alone, and 25% if they live with one other adult.
For more information on the SMI discount, click here. If you want to apply you must complete this form and send it your local council’s council tax department. The form will need to be signed by a doctor or other medical professional.
The Council Tax Reduction scheme (CTR)
The CTR scheme helps people on low incomes and/or certain welfare benefits to pay their council tax by reducing their bill. Some councils call it ‘council tax support’.
To get a CTR you need to apply to the council that issues your council tax bill.
In Wales all councils will generally offer the same reductions. There may be a few slight differences and you may wish to check the rules of your council’s scheme to see exactly what you are entitled to. Most councils will not give you a reduction if your capital is over £16,000.
Your reduction may not be for the full amount of your council tax bill. There may be a shortfall, which you will have to make up yourself.
Reductions for pensioners
You’re counted as a pensioner for the purposes of CTR if:
- you have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit, and
- neither you or your partner are getting income-related state benefits – income support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or universal credit.
Any income and savings you have will be taken into account by the council when it works out your reduction. But if you’re getting pension credit and qualify for the ‘guarantee credit’ part, you’ll automatically get the maximum available reduction from your council tax regardless of your savings and income.
Reductions for people with disabilities
If there is someone (adult or child) living in your household who has a disability the council tax bill for the property may be reduced. The reduction is made by charging council tax on a lower valuation band than the one the property is in. For example, if the property is in band D, the council tax bill will be worked out as if it were in band C.
When should I apply for a reduction?
If you think that you might be entitled to a reduction then you should claim as soon as possible.
You may be able to get a reduction for a period before you made your application if you could have claimed earlier. Getting a reduction for a period before you apply is called ‘backdating’.
You can ask the council to backdate your claim, for a maximum of:
- 3 months, if you are of pension age (you do not have to give reason for asking for the backdate)
- 3 months, if you are of working age, provided your council has not extended or reduced this time limit. You must give a good reason, in writing, why you did not claim earlier.
What if I disagree with the council’s decision?
If you do not agree with the decision the council has made about your reduction, you should write to the council and tell them you want to appeal. You must do this within 1 month of the council’s decision. Explain what you disagree with, giving as much information as possible about why you think they are wrong. When the council receive your appeal letter, they should look at the decision again and respond to you within 2 months.
- the council does not respond to you within 2 months, or
- you are not happy with the council’s response
you can appeal for free to the Valuation Tribunal for Wales. An appeal must be submitted to the Tribunal within 2 months of the council’s response (or, if they haven’t yet responded, within 4 months of your original appeal letter to the council). In exceptional circumstances (for example illness or bereavement), the Tribunal may accept your appeal outside of these time limits.
For more details about how to appeal, including links to the appeal form and guidance notes, click here.