Cut your council tax bill!
Council Tax is the most despised tax among lovemoney.com readers, but there are ways to cut how much you shell out on it.
First up, make sure your property is in the right tax band - the council tax system was established in 1993 when every property was placed into a valuation band, but many properties in England and Scotland haven't been revalued since then. In order to find out which band you should be in, just head to the Council Tax Valuation List and input your details.
If you do find you're in a higher band than many of your neighbours, it's worth contacting your local valuation office. If you do find you're in a higher band than many of your neighbours, it's worth contacting your local valuation office. There is an official list of reasons for revaluation so it's worth quoting one of these when you make your claim. And if you’re successful, you’ll be entitled to refund of the payments you’ve made since you moved to the property.
Even if you are in the correct valuation band, there are other ways to get a discount on your council tax. But before you get too excited, there are strict criteria for assessing whether or not you're eligible.
For example, you might get a reduction if you or someone in your household is disabled. In fact, your bill could be lowered by one valuation band, even if you're in band A.
What's more, if you're the only adult living in your home, you'll get 25% off your bill. It's worth bearing in mind that when you're working out how many adults are in your home, certain people won't be counted -- such as students. (There's more on this here.) So if you're living with a student, you will only have to pay council tax based on one adult living in the home.
In some cases, if you're really lucky, you won't have to pay council tax at all -- whether this is only for a short period, or indefinitely.
For example, if your home is empty because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable, you'll have up to a year free from council tax. However, once that year is up, you will have to start paying again -- even if the work isn't finished.
You also won't have to pay council tax for up to six months if the property is empty and substantially unfurnished. However, you are allowed to live in the property for up to six weeks during this time.
Alternatively, you can avoid paying council tax if only students live in the home, or if all the inhabitants are under the age of 18. You can see the full list of exemptions here.