Council tax rebates: expert advice from RIFT

Council Tax rebates, discounts and reductions can be a tricky subject, leaving a lot of people paying out more tax than they should. If you don’t check your Council Tax band, you can even end up paying the wrong Council Tax altogether.

Depending on your circumstances and the people you live with, you might be able to get your Council Tax rate reduced. Knowing how to apply for a Council Tax rebate, and which kinds of tax relief you qualify for, is the key – so here’s a quick rundown from the friendly experts at RIFT.

Council tax bands explained

The bands for council Tax are rated from A-H, based on the value of your property – or at least, its value way back in 1991. The problem is, the band you’re in won’t necessarily always be correct. For instance, if the property’s been changed, is being used for different purposes now or has been demolished altogether, you’ll need to check your Council Tax band as soon as possible.

To do this, your first move should be to visit the website and look the property up there (if your property’s in Scotland, you should visit the Scottish Assessor’s site instead). You’ll be asked to back up your challenge with some basic information, but if the band’s wrong you should be able to get it fixed.

Apply for a Council tax rebate, discount or reduction

There are several reasons why you might be able to apply for a Council tax rebate, and two basic types of help you can get:

  • Council tax discount: A 25% council tax discount can apply if you're living alone (or with someone who doesn’t count for Council Tax). You may also be able to get this discount for holiday homes or properties that have been altered to fit the needs of a disabled person.
  • Council Tax Reduction: You can apply for a Council Tax Reduction if you and your partner have under £16,000 in savings and capital, or if you’re on a low income.

There’s also a special Council Tax rebate called the Second Adult Rebate or ‘alternative maximum Council Tax Reduction’. This sounds complicated, but it basically just means you’re the only person at your property who’s responsible for Council Tax, but you’re living with another adult who doesn’t pay rent, isn’t your partner and is on certain benefits or a low income.

To apply for a Council tax rebate, you’ll need to get in touch with your council directly. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can check by typing your post code into the special page on the website. Naturally, you’ll have to back up your application with some information about your property and the people living there, but if you qualify it’s well worth claiming.

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