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How to pay council tax, apply for an extension, and which months do you not pay?

Your council will tell you how much you can expect to pay, and when, in your council tax bill (PA Archive)
Your council will tell you how much you can expect to pay, and when, in your council tax bill (PA Archive)

UK households pay council tax to contribute towards services such as rubbish collection and road safety.

The amount householders pay depends on their property’s council tax band, the area they live in, and their circumstances.

Householders typically pay their council tax in 10 instalments, although some councils offer the option of paying in 12.

But how do you pay council tax and how do you apply for an exemption? Read on to find out.

How do I pay council tax?

To pay council tax when you move into a new house or flat, you have to contact your local authority to let them know.

Head to your local council’s website and search for 'council tax'. There should be an online form you can fill out or contact details if you need more help.

You can also choose how to pay your council tax. The easiest way is direct debit, but you may be able to pay online or by phone.

You’ll also receive a bill once a month that will let you know how much you owe.

On which months do you not pay council tax?

Householders who pay their council tax in 10 instalments will not pay any council tax in February or March.

Over the next two months, many UK households will therefore have more money in their monthly budgets

Your council will tell you how much you can expect to pay and when in your council tax bill. This can help you to budget throughout the year as you know when to expect to pay.

If you’re having trouble paying your bill, your local council may let you spread out your payments evenly throughout the year.

How to apply for a council tax exemption

Some people are exempt from paying a council tax bill and a discount depends on personal circumstances.

If everyone in the household is “disregarded,” the bill will be discounted by 50 per cent.

If everyone except one person is “disregarded,” or someone lives alone, they’ll get 25 per cent off their bill.

Someone could be disregarded from the bill for several reasons, such as if they’re under 18 — or 18 and 19 and in full-time education.

Students in full-time education in college or university are also disregarde — as are people on certain apprenticeship schemes — and student nurses.

People who are severely mentally impaired, foreign language assistants, and some live-in carers are also disregarded.

How to check you’re paying the correct council tax

Hundreds of thousands of households in England are estimated to be in the incorrect council tax band.

It's crucial now more than ever to ensure your house is in the correct band because council tax costs increased by five per cent for millions of people last year.

Here are a few steps you can take according to the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin Lewis.

  • Check your band, and compare it with your neighbours' bands using gov.uk

  • Since the council tax bands were established in 1991, you should double-check the value of your house at that time using house price websites.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re in the wrong council tax band, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) directly. You will be given information on how your band was selected and the chance to clarify any discrepancies and suggest changes.

You may be told you can’t formally challenge your council tax band if you’ve lived in the property for more than six months, but Lewis says “Don’t be fooled” by this.

MoneySavingExpert.com said: “Martin has had conversations with former Government ministers who've told him the VOA has a legal responsibility to uphold the "integrity" of the council tax banding system.”