Council tax is a property based yearly tax levied on all homeowners and tenants over the age of 18. It is paid to local council offices over 10 months; as the yearly bill is split into instalments by local authorities. This makes it easier for individuals to make small payments that are spread over months as compared to making a lump sum annual payment of the tax.

The local council prepares a spending plan which shows details of the areas in which collections from council tax bills are to be spent. This plan is also shared with individuals required to pay the tax to give them an idea of the benefits that may expect through their collective contributions.

Some of the areas in which council tax collections may be used included the following:

  • fire and police services
  • trash collection
  • roads
  • education
  • libraries

Do You Have To Pay Council Tax Every Month?

Yes, council tax bills are paid through monthly instalments that range between the months of April to January.

Council tax is based upon the valuation band that a property is categorized under by the local council and Valuation Office Agency. While the local council may assign an annual bill in April, the annual tax is spread over 10 monthly instalments to make payments convenient for individuals as well as to account for any desirable changes such as inflation rates. To learn more about council tax bands, here is a link to the UK government’s website Check your Council Tax band – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If an individual is unable to afford their monthly council tax instalment or would require a relief, they may request to have the annual bill be spread over 12 monthly instalments versus the usual 10 instalments. This reduces the per month average due to which the due amount is decreased.  

In terms of mode of payment, local councils may accept weekly or fortnightly payments as well. Generally, a discount may be availed if the payee chooses to pay the entire annual tax bill in advance.

As we proceed further, we will be able to explore more on this topic and learn about:

  • Who has to make council tax payments?
  • How to make council tax payments?
  • Who is eligible for council tax benefits?
  • How to get council tax reduction?
  • Which properties are exempted from council tax payments?

Who Has to Make Council Tax Payments?

Any individual, over the age of 18 years, whether a homeowner or tenant, employed or unemployed, is eligible to pay their council tax bills to the local council office. This is an annual tax; spread across 10 monthly instalments between April and January with February and March considered as tax holiday months.

Usually, one person is considered the prime point of contact and the one considered as “liable” to pay council tax bills. To qualify for this, the said occupant must be above 18 years of age. Couples sharing premises are jointly liable for their council tax bills; however, anyone of them may be listed to be considered as liable for payments.

In the case of a rented property, it is the tenant who is liable to pay council tax. However, should any of the following situations occur, the liability becomes extended towards the owner:

  • all the occupants are under 18 years of age
  • the occupants are asylum seekers
  • the occupants are multiple households/ couples/ individuals co-sharing the rent and premises
  • the property is a second home or holiday home and the residents have a main home elsewhere
  • the property is a care home or refugee shelter

How Do I Pay My Council Tax Bills?

Direct Debit is the most convenient method of making council tax payments since the annual tax is split across 10 monthly instalments and the payment plan is shared by the local councils at beginning of the term in April.

While the instalments assigned by local councils are 10, individuals wishing to spread them over 12 months instead may apply to their local council office and request the same. Payments may also be made on an annual or half-yearly basis.

Although the instalments are due on the 1st of each month, individuals choosing to pay through direct debit may choose 1st, 8th, 15th or 22nd.

To learn more about methods of council tax bill payments, the following link may be useful Ways to pay your council tax | Ways to pay your council tax | Ealing Council

Who Is Eligible For Council Tax Benefits?

To qualify for a council tax benefit certain criteria needs to be met. Following are some examples: 

  • Two adults who live in the same house qualify to pay full council tax; they may share the bill. However, if a single adult is living in a property by themselves, they may be eligible for a 25 per cent reduction in the bill irrespective of the fact whether they are part-time employees or full-time ones. The same rule applies if an adult is sharing the premises with one or more individuals under the age of 18 years.
  • A 50 per cent council tax benefit becomes applicable if all the residents of the household are under 18 years of age. Complete exemption or a 100 per cent discount is applicable if all the residents of the said premises are full-time students.
  • Individuals on a low income or those receiving other forms of public support qualify for a 100 per cent discount on their council tax bills. To apply for this exemption, claimants may be homeowners or tenants; they may either be unemployed or working. 

To learn more about benefits for individuals on a low income, click here Browse: Benefits and financial support if you’re on a low income – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How Can I Get Council Tax Reduction On My Bill?

Basic criteria for council tax reduction is based upon an individual’s age, residential status, and income level. To be eligible for a reduction on ones’ council tax bill, the claimant must either be on low income or claim benefits through a government-supported program.

The amount of council tax reduction that they qualify for will depend on the following factors:

  • The area in which they live as each local council has its scheme
  • Claimant’s circumstances; including their income, number of children, any other benefits that may be receiving
  • Total household income; this includes the joint incomes and saving of couples
  • If children are living in the house
  • Number of other adults in the house

It must be noted here that since the rates of council tax bills are dependant upon local council schemes, they may vary from council to council. Furthermore, the eligibility for council tax benefit and the amount of benefit that may be extended to applicants is also at the discretion of local council schemes.

To apply at your local council office, click here Apply for Council Tax Reduction – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Which Properties Are Exempted From Council Tax Bills?

Depending upon specific circumstances, certain properties may be exempted from council tax bills; this exemption may be temporary or indefinite.

To be exempted, the said property must cater to any of the following criteria:

  • legally repossessed by a mortgage lender
  • condemned property
  • unoccupied due to the owner’s absence (the owner may be in hospital care or have another home as their main residence or may be taking care of someone else and living in their home)
  • all the residents are full-time students
  • all the residents are under 18 years of age
  • all the residents are mentally impaired
  • it is an annexe to the main part of a house and the occupant is a dependant (perhaps due to old age)

What Happens When Somone Does Not Pay Their Council Tax Bills?

If someone is unable to pay their council tax, the first step taken by the council is to send them an official notice asking to clear their dues in the next 7 days. Should they not be able to make up for the missed payment, residents may be asked to pay council tax for the entire year ahead. 

Two such reminders may be sent by the council to encourage council tax payments. However, if the resident does not clear their arrears even after receiving the final notice from their local council, legal action may be taken. This includes possession of valuables and in certain cases eviction from residential premises.

Local councils also have the authority to demand the arrears directly from the defaulter’s employers who will deduct the amount from their salary. Furthermore, they may also apply to have the amount deducted from any benefits that the individual receives. These may include:

  • Income support
  • Employment allowance
  • Support allowance
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Pension credit

FAQs: Do You Have To Pay Council Tax Every Month?

What months don’t you pay council tax?

Council tax is an annual tax spread over 10 months; with each new term starting in April and ending in January. No payments are to be made in February and March. However, if someone requests for their local council to make their council tax payments based on 12 instalments than 10, they will make payments every month of the year. 

Is council tax monthly or yearly?

Council tax is an annual tax spread over 10 monthly instalments.

What happens if you don’t pay council tax?

If someone is unable to pay their council tax, the local council will send them an official notice asking them to clear their dues in the next 7 days. Should they not be able to make up for the missed payment, residents may be asked to pay council tax for the entire year ahead. Two such reminders may be sent by the council to encourage council tax payments. However, if the resident does not clear their arrears even after receiving the final notice from their local council, severe legal action may be taken such as possession of valuables, eviction, or even prison. 

Does everyone in a house pay council tax?

Any individual, over the age of 18 years, whether a homeowner or tenant, employed or unemployed, is eligible to pay their council tax bills to the local council office. Usually, one person is considered the prime point of contact and the one considered as “liable” to pay council tax bills. To qualify for this, the said occupant must be above 18 years of age. Couples sharing premises are jointly liable for their council tax bills; however, anyone of them may be listed to be considered as liable for payments. In the case of a rented property, it is the tenant who is liable to pay council tax. 

Do you pay council tax on universal credit?

Universal credit is a government-supported benefit that helps individuals pay for their living costs if they are unable to do so on their own. While being a recipient of universal credit does not lead to exemption from council tax payments, one may qualify for a reduction in their total council tax bill.

References: 

What is Council Tax? (southampton.gov.uk)

Paying council tax – Citizens Advice

Council Tax – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Apply for Council Tax Reduction

Browse: Benefits and financial support if you’re on a low income – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Council Tax Support – Camden Council

Ways to pay your council tax | Ways to pay your council tax

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