Quick 2-Minute Guide to Understanding Council Tax


What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a mandatory fee imposed by the UK government, used for the construction of public facilities in cities, such as waste collection, street lighting, cleanliness and road maintenance. It’s paid monthly, and the amount varies for different Council Tax bands, averaging around £1,000 per year.


If I don't use public facilities, can I avoid paying Council Tax? And what happens if I don't pay?

The short answer is, you cannot avoid paying Council Tax! Ignoring government letters and failing to pay Council Tax on time can lead to serious consequences. If you miss a payment by about two weeks, you'll receive a reminder from the local council. If you pay within 7 days, the credit crisis will be resolved, and you can continue paying Council Tax in instalments.


If you don't pay within 7 days after receiving the reminder, the council will send you a "final notice." This notice will demand payment for the remaining Council Tax for the current year within 7 days. If you delay the first month's payment, you might be asked to pay the Council Tax for the upcoming year (10 months) in advance. If you still don't pay within the next 7 days after the final notice, the council can apply to the court for permission to collect the debt, known as a "liability order." 


Subsequently, the council may instruct your employer to deduct the unpaid Council Tax directly from your wages, or they may send a bailiff to your home. You may be required to pay court costs, bailiff fees, plus the debt, and you might even face imprisonment for overdue Council Tax.


How to Pay Council Tax? What to do When Moving?

Enter "find your local council" in your browser, then input your apartment's postal code to find the corresponding council's official website. Register an account on the website.

All councils have an official website. Simply click "Council Tax," then "Moving in or out." Choose "Moving in" and fill out the form in sequence to complete the registration. Once registered, follow the prompts to make payments.

Remember to update your account with your move-out details when relocating; otherwise, you may still be liable for Council Tax for your former property.


Who is eligible for Council Tax reduction?

Council Tax offers discounts and reduction policies for certain groups.


Who is Eligible For a reduction in Council Tax?

  • Full-time students (courses lasting at least 12 months with a minimum of 21 hours of study per week).
  • Single-Person Discount: if only one adult resides in the house, they are entitled to a 25% discount.
  • Low-income households (excluding international students and accompanying parents).
  • Disability allowance: if a resident or cohabitant has a permanent disability.
  • Structural modification or major repairs to the house: when the property requires or is undergoing structural reconstruction or significant repairs.

If you fall into any of the above categories, you’re able to apply for a reduction.


How to Apply for Council Tax Reduction?

Depending on your needs for instance if you’re a full-time student:

  • Obtain a Student Letter from the school, confirming your student status. Some schools provide a Council Tax Exemption Form; fill it out and get it stamped by the school.
  • Log in to the official website of the relevant administrative area, for example, Tower Hamlets. Click on "I am a Student," scroll down, and choose "Complete the application Form." Fill out the form following the steps. Remember your Reference Code (used for each payment).


If you want to apply for Single Person Discount:

  • Log in to the official website of the relevant administrative area, for example, Tower Hamlets.
  • Click on "Do I qualify for a discount?" and choose "Single person discount." Fill out the form following the steps.


How to Know if Your Application Was Successful?

Shortly after applying, you will receive a comprehensive statement showing a full exemption. If the balance is 0, your application was successful!


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