Your council tax reference number is required while making council tax payments or seeking answers to queries from local council offices. Although the number of digits may vary from council to council, It appears on the top right-hand corner of your council tax bill along with your online key. It is mostly used to help you while making online payments of your council tax bill.

Does Your Council Tax Reference Number Change?

Yes, your council tax reference number changes each time you are sent a new council tax bill; which, under usual circumstances is once a year. Council tax is a yearly tax that is spread across 10 monthly instalments. However, the bill that you will receive will be on an annual basis with dates marked when each month’s instalment is due.

To learn more about the application of council tax, its calculations and key areas of importance, we will try to answer the following questions:

  • What Does My Council Tax Bill Show?
  • What Is Council Tax?
  • Does Council Tax Bill Count As Utility Bill?
  • How Do I Know How Much Council Tax To Pay?
  • What Does Your Council Tax Bill Tell You?
  • How Are Properties Assessed For Council Tax?

What Does My Council Tax Bill Show?

Your council tax bill includes the following important information:

  • Personal reference number: This number is used to talk to local authorities about your bill.
  • Date: This is the date when the bill was printed which also indicates the due date for your payments. 
  • Name: The name of the person liable to pay the bill.
  • Address 1: The physical address of the property which is being billed.
  • Address 2: Recipient’s address (if different from the billing address of the property).
  • Amount: The amount that you need to pay for the year as well as mention of any reductions/discounts that you are eligible for.
  • Details of instalments: This shows the amounts that are due each month along with due dates.
  • Mode of payment: (e.g. direct debit)
  • Reason: This mentions that this is an annual bill.
  • Contribution: This indicates a break up of the recipient’s contribution towards council services, fire service and the police service.
  • Total: This shows the total amount due for the year for this council tax band.
  • Band: This indicates the council band assigned to your property.
  • Reduced band: This appears in case there has been a change from your previous band to a new one in case of any changes to your living conditions. 

The back of your council tax bill carries important information as well as contact details for you to follow up with,

You may Pay your Council Tax online or via direct debit.

What Is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a monthly tax collected by local authorities from residents who are above 18 years of age and live in England, Scotland or Wales. The amount of council tax due is based upon the value of the occupied property and the council tax scheme applicable in the area.

It is specific to domestic property and was introduced in 1993 by the Local Government Finance Act of 1992 with the aim to utilise funds for the provision of schools, roads, garbage collection, park maintenance, street lighting among other community-based expenses.

While each council may follow an independent council tax scheme, the general rule is to categorise the properties based on their value and assign a band accordingly. The range of band extends from A to H; indicating an ascending order in terms of property value and hence the amount of council tax rate.

To learn about your council tax band in England and Wales, click on this link and add your home address or postal code Check your Council Tax band – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) For homes in Scotland, you will need to access the Scottish Accessors website here Scottish Assessors – Scottish Assessors Association website (saa.gov.uk)

Does Council Tax Bill Count As Utility Bill?

No, your council tax bill does not count as a utility bill for the simple reason that council tax is paid to the local council to provide for community-based services and varies based on (a) the local council scheme in your area and (b) the band assigned to your property based on its value.

On the other hand, utility bills are charged for the consumption of electricity, water and gas by a household. Unlike council tax, these bills are paid directly to the service providers and each month’s payment may vary based on changes in the amount of consumption.

How Do I Know How Much Council Tax To Pay?

Anyone who owns or rents a property in England, Scotland and Wales and is above 18 years of age is eligible to pay a council tax. A full council tax is applicable on properties occupied by two or more adults. However, it is not just the number of residents that determine the amount of council tax due on the property. 

Houses are assigned bands based on their market value by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) with Band A indicating the least market price and Band H indicating the highest market price. 

Based on these bands, the local council office calculates the yearly amount of council tax due on individual properties. Then, they break it down into 10 monthly instalments due for payment between April and January. February and March are tax-free months in which no council tax instalments are issued (unless a resident has requested 12 monthly instalments as compared to 10)

If a property is occupied by a single adult who lives on their own or is the only adult in the house (the other residents must be younger than 18 years of age), they qualify for a 25 per cent on their council tax bill.

If all the residents of a property are younger than 18 years of age, they will become eligible for a 50 per cent discount on their council tax bill. If all the residents are full-time students, they will be completely exempted from paying council tax at all.

If someone receives a council tax bill by mistake, they must inform their local council office immediately Find your local council

What Does Your Council Tax Bill Tell You?

Essentially, your council tax bills indicate the following three areas:

  • the total amount due for the entire year
  • how the annual amount has been worked out by the local authorities
  • the dates are payments will be due

A standard bill is spread over 10 monthly instalments that run between April and January. However, if residents find it difficult to make timely amounts as per the monthly amount that is due, they can request their local council to divide this annual tax into 12 instalments; thus, reducing the size of the monthly instalment.

It must be remembered that you may not receive the same amount of council tax bill as another person living in your council. This is a property-based tax that varies depending upon the value of the property. 

Also, each council designs their council tax scheme. This means that your bill may be different as compared to another individual living in a different council. You can click on this link to contact your local council Find your local council – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How Are Properties Assessed For Council Tax?

Council tax applies to properties used only for residential (not commercial or business) purposes. Based on the value of the property, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) assigns one out of eight bands to determine the total amount of council tax due on the residents. Council tax bands can be found here How domestic properties are assessed for Council Tax bands – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This value is based on the assumed market value of the said property on April 1 1991 in England and April 1 2003 in Wales. There are no adjustments made for inflation or a rise in housing prices during this time.

In addition to this, the Valuation Office Agency considers the following factors when assessing a property:

  • location
  • size
  • character
  • layout
  • change in use

Conclusion:

Your council tax reference number is updated each time you receive a council tax bill from local authorities. It is very important to note this down or keep your printed copy of the council tax bills safely as you will be needing this reference number while making online or direct debit payments for council tax bills or for raising queries to the local council office.

FAQs: Does Your Council Tax Reference Number Change?

What does a Council Tax reference number look like?

A council tax reference number is an eight to ten-digit number found on the top right-hand side of your council tax bill with an online key. It is used to make online or direct debit payments for council tax bills or to raise queries to local council offices.

Where can I find my benefit reference number?

The benefit reference number is printed on the right-hand side of the benefits entitlement letter.

Is Council Tax linked to universal credit?

Universal Credit is a Department for Work and Pensions benefit and is not directly linked to council tax. However, it does cover housing costs and recipients of universal credit may claim a discount on their council tax bills by applying for one.

Is Council Tax linked to HMRC?

Although council tax is not directly related to HMRC, in case of applications filed in favour of council tax reductions, local councils may take help from the HMRC to verify the information shared by claimants. Similarly, in case of council tax debt or fraud, local councils share information of debtors and fraudsters with HMRC for the purpose of verification of facts.

How do I avoid Council Tax?

Council tax is a mandatory payment due upon all residents of England, Scotland and Wales. There is no exemption from council tax payments unless the local council deems the property exempt or the personal circumstances of the residents exempt them lawfully such as a house occupied by full-time students.  

References:

Your council tax bill explained | Paying your council tax

Where to find your Council Tax reference number and online key

Your council tax bill explained – bristol.gov.uk

Scottish Assessors – Scottish Assessors Association website

How domestic properties are assessed for Council Tax bands

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