As you begin towards a new life in the UK and a new home, it is necessary to understand your financial obligations. One of the vital components of local taxation in the UK is the Council Tax. In this blog, we will take a look at the Council Tax and how expats can handle this crucial factor while staying in the UK.
What is Council Tax?
Council Tax is a system of local taxation in the UK which is collected by the local authorities. Every residential property must pay this tax as it is a steady source of revenue for councils. The collected funds are navigated towards various local services necessary for residents. Some of them include collecting garbage, recycling services, local police, fire and rescue services, cleaning the streets, etc.
The exact amount every house must pay differs significantly. Factors that affect the amount for tax include the locality of the area because different councils have different rates. Moreover, the valuation band where your residence lies plays an important role in deciding the tax. Also, the number of eligible adults living in your house can be a decisive factor for the council tax. Moreover, certain situations like full-time student or having any disability can offer you reductions.
Property valuation bands
The system of property valuation bands is a unique method by the UK to ensure fairness in Council Tax collection. The government has organized houses into different groups as per their worth in 1991 and not what they are worth now for fair tax. There are eight groups that range from A being the cheapest to H being the most expensive. It is important to know which group your property falls in to decide how much Council Tax you need to pay. You can get this information from the UK government website.
Who Needs to Pay?
The people who live in the property must pay the Council Tax. If you are the only adult living there, you must pay the tax. If there are many adults, they must share the responsibility unless there is something different written in your rental agreement. However, there are certain exceptions. For instance, in specific cases, companies pay the tax for their properties. In rented properties, there might be an agreement where the landlord and tenant can state who pays. If it doesn’t, then it’s the responsibility of the tenant.
Discounts and Exemptions
Not everyone needs to pay the full Council Tax. There are certain discounts or exemptions so that you do need not to pay any tax at all. Here are some of them:
- If you are the only adult living in the home, you will get a 25% discount.
- If the house is completely occupied by full-time students, you need not pay anything at all. But if there is a non-student in the same house, they need to get a small amount.
- If someone has a mental condition, they need not pay. This rule is also applicable to houses where everyone residing there has a similar condition.
- Some houses that are empty due to any special reason, like the owner in prison or a healthcare facility, might get discounts.
How to Pay
Paying your council tax is quite easy. After you get the bill, choose how to pay:
- Direct Debit: Your council will take the money from your bank account every month.
- Online: Most councils have respective websites where you can log in and pay your bill directly.
- Phone: You can call and make the payment through the phone.
- PayPoint, Post Office, and Payzone: These are other ways you can pay in person such as in certain stores using a barcode on your bill.
Some councils allow you to expand your payments over 10-12 months which makes it easier for people to pay. But it is always wise to pay on time to avoid penalties.
Moving or changes in your situation
If you are moving to a new place in the UK, are having someone moving in or out, or if there is a change in the owner of the property, it can affect your Council Tax. Make sure to talk to your local council about the changes so that they can estimate the right amount for you.
Challenging your Council Tax Band
At times, your house might be placed in the wrong group for Council Tax which means you might be paying too much. If you think this has happened, especially if houses near you are paying less, then you can challenge the Council. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) can help you with such a situation.
Managing Council Tax in the UK might look complicated at first but with proper research and information, expats can handle it easily. Make sure to always pay on time and keep your local council updated on any changes. This will make your expat experience smooth and stress-free.
How can Helpxpat assist you?
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