When Should Council Tax Be Paid?

This blog answers the question “When should council tax be paid?”. It states the categories of people on whom council tax is due which is pretty much everyone over the age of 18 years (living in their own residence) and the tax is based on the value on which the property would have been sold on the open market on 1st April 1991. We also look at the dangers of missing council tax payments.

When Should Council Tax Be Paid?

You need to pay council tax starting from April when the bills are sent out, usually in 10 installments. The choice of dates available are the 5th, 15th, 20th and 28th of each month. The monthly payment must not be missed and the yearly figure of council tax should be reached within 12 months or 10 (as agreed).

A lump sum can also be paid on the 1st of April or in 2 payments on the 1st of April and 1st of September.(the 2 months when council tax is not paid are February and March)

Every house receives one council tax bill and is placed in one of eight council tax bands. Your council tax bill should show the full amount of tax for the property for the entire year along with any reductions.

The property being billed for council tax should be a chargeable dwelling

What happens if I miss my Council Tax due date?

Firstly you will be served a 7 day reminder notice and at the end of this time if you still haven’t paid, you will be paying the entire year’s council tax. There are a maximum of 2 such reminders in a year (running from April 1st to March 31st the next year). If you fail to pay the entire year’s tax the council can ask the magistrate for a liability order. You can go to court and explain the reasons for your non payment, if they are acceptable ones.

If this is not the case and the reasons you give to the council for missing the payment are not accepted the council can apply to take money from your Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

Beyond this the Council can send bailiffs to seize your property if there is no other way to recover your council tax through legal proceedings.

Click here to learn how to pay your council tax online

When should council tax be paid for full time students?

If all the inhabitants of a household consist of full time students, they are not liable for paying any council tax, as they all get a 100% discount. To count as a full time student, your course has to last for more than one year, consist of more than 21 study hours a week

When should council tax be paid on empty properties?

Council tax has to be paid every month on empty properties and will increase to 150% if the residence is left empty for 2 years or longer. Some empty properties can be exempt from council tax such as those left vacant by someone who has moved into a care home or hospital. Properties purchased by the council under a compulsory purchase order are also exempt from council tax.

Who Is Eligible For A Council Tax Exemption?

The following people are eligible for a Council Tax Exemption:

  • Someone moving into a care home and leaving their primary residence unoccupied
  • A property that is occupiable because of damage due to fire, flooding, or vandalism and is being actively repaired (for a period of 12 months to 2 years) The owner is eligible for a council tax exemption when they are able to provide proof of the damage and repairs
  • Property of a person in detention, where the sentence is a long-term one (and the property is also left vacant)
  • The property is owned by a person who has declared bankruptcy. (for as long as his/her status remains so)
  • The property is occupied only by residents aged under 18 years.
  • The owner of a property used for UK armed forces occupation purposes.
  • For a property that is occupied by all full time students, the owner is eligible for a council tax exemption

Is there a council tax exemption for a person who has died and was the only one living on the property?

Yes, the property is exempt from council tax for as long as it remains unoccupied following the death of the owner. Following the granting of probate, another 6-month exemption is possible as long as the property remains unoccupied and has not been sold to someone else

Executors must inform council tax about:

  • The date the probate is granted
  • The details of the transfer of the property or the ending date of the tenancy
  • Whether the estate is settled.

Does having a disability affect my liability to paying council tax?

Yes indeed, if you or someone who lives with you has a disability they can avail a council tax exemption or discount. Through the Disabled Band Reduction scheme your property will be moved to a band lower than the one it is in currently (bands move from high to low in a descending order alphabetically, C is lower than D and D is lower than E). Getting a bill for a property in a lower band will mean lesser charges.

To avail this scheme you will need to prove that you have a larger property to cater for the needs of the disabled resident (and so are eligible to pay more council tax, than if the resident or residents of the property were normal). This larger size of property includes space for moving a wheelchair and an extra bathroom, kitchen etc used to care for the disabled resident. This person with a disability may also be a child.

Similarly council tax discounts of upto 100% are available for severely impaired property owners or residents

Do I still pay council tax if I have been declared bankrupt?

If your council tax arrears exceed £5000, your council tax arrears will be written off by a Direct Relief Order (DRO) A DRO freezes your debt and interest repayments for 12 months. If your financial situation hasn’t improved at the end of this period all your debt will be written off. This option of getting a Direct Relief Order is only available if your debt is under £30000 and you are ineligible for it if you own property

If your debt is more than £30000 and your creditors have made sure that there is no way to recover debts from you. Under bankruptcy proceedings, you are first summoned to court and then your account is passed on to solicitors who will send you a statutory demand (this gives you a period of 21 days to pay back the full amount you owe)

Next if you are unable to settle this statutory demand HMRC will present a petition for bankruptcy or liquidation to your council court. The court will then make a bankruptcy order

The following financial penalties apply when you are declared bankrupt:

  • Your home could be sold to recover your debts
  • Your bank accounts could be frozen
  • You may not be able to obtain credit exceeding £500
  • The official receiver will control you spending for the next three years
  • You will also no longer control your assets, and the official receiver will decide which ones if any, you can keep in your possession

HMRC will only petition for bankruptcy as a last resort if all other ways of making you repay your debt fail. As long as you are in the status of bankruptcy you will be exempt from paying council tax.

If I am living alone in my property or am residing with all severely mentally impaired adults can I be fully exempt from council tax?

Yes, if you are living alone on your property and are certified as being severely mentally impaired, you will be able to claim a 100% reduction in council tax (also if the other adults in your household are classified as severely mentally impaired or are full time students). 

If you are severely mentally impaired and the other adults in your household are disregarded in this tax reduction you will get a 50% reduction on your council tax bill.

If you are living with someone who is severely mentally impaired and are the only 2 adults in the household or the other occupants of your property can be “disregarded” you can claim a 25% council tax discount on your bill. You can apply for this discount here 


This blog post addressed the question “When Should Council Tax be Paid?In many cases occupants are not liable for paying any council tax owing to their circumstances. If these specific circumstances change suddenly, the council tax bill payment can be due from the next month, so it is best to inform HMRC as soon as possible. It is very important for you to know and remember when your council tax should be paid.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): When Should Council Tax Be Paid?

How can I pay my Council Tax?

Council Tax is payable by 10 monthly installments by the first day of each month starting from April. Payments can be made:

  • Through Direct Debit
  • Online
  • In Person
  • Through Telephone via credit card
  • By Post through check

What Happens if I don’t pay (Council Tax)?

If you don’t pay council tax it is likely that your council will take you to court to recover all the money at once. You will need to pay court fees etc which can add hundreds of pounds to your debt overall. Also your employer can be forced to make deductions from your wages in this case. There is a final notice for missing a payment which needs to be responded to within 7 days before the council starts court proceedings and makes you pay the whole year’s council tax. You must tell the council why you are not liable to pay if you have a good cause to avoid a legal case against you.

Your council can also apply to take money from the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

Why am I being charged 200% for my empty property?

Land that has been empty for 2 years or more will have an additional premium of 100% applied to it, this is 200% of your property’s value, in total. For a period of 5 years or more the premium rises to 300% and 400% of the land value for 10 years and over of the property being vacant.


Pay Your Council Tax

Ways to Pay Your Council Tax