Council tax

You might have to pay council tax for the home you live in.

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.

Exempt properties

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.

Care leavers

In some areas of Wales you will be exempt from paying council tax if you are under 21 and a care leaver.  In some areas, you may be exempt up to the age of 25.

The decision whether to exempt care leavers is up to each individual council so you will need to contact your local council (see below) to find out what happens in your area.

Discounts

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.

Reductions

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.

If:

  • 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.

Where can I find out more?

Use the Welsh Government eligibility checker to see if you can pay less council tax. You can also take a look at their leaflet.

To find details about council tax and reductions in your area, including contact details for your local council, use this postcode search tool :

To find out more about council tax if you are a student, click here.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

This page was last updated on: January 11, 2019

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.