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Council Tax Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Council Tax?

How can I find out the Valuation Band of a Property?

How much do I have to pay?

How do I pay?

I am on a low income; can I get any help with payment of my Council Tax?

I live alone, can I claim a discount?

Are there any discounts when there is more than one adult living in a property?

This property is not my main home, am I entitled to a discount?

I have to live in another property because of my job, can I get a discount?

I am a student; do I have to pay Council Tax?

Are there any exemptions from paying Council Tax?

My property is empty, can I get a discount?

My property is undergoing major repair and renovation, can I get a discount?

What is the Long Term Empty Premium?

I have a disabled person living with me; can I get a reduction in my Council Tax?

I have an annex in the grounds of my property, is the full Council Tax payable on the annex?

What will happen if I don't pay my Council Tax?

How do I tell the Council about my change of address?

How do I tell the Council that my circumstances have changed and I am no longer entitled to a discount/exemption?

 

1. What is Council Tax?

The Council Tax provides part of the money that is needed to administer the services that our local communities need, for example schools, policing, providing support to the elderly and vulnerable, the maintenance of parks and open spaces, getting rid of our rubbish and keeping our streets clean. Your Council Tax is a local tax, based on the value of your property, and it helps to finance the services provided by Bedford Borough Council, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Authority, and (where applicable) Town and Parish Councils.

 

Information about the budgets of Bedford Borough Council, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire and Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Authority is available by clicking here

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2. How can I find out the Valuation Band of a Property?

The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for valuing and placing properties into one of the eight Council Tax valuation bands, which are based on the open market value at 1st April 1991. To check the Valuation Band of a property please click here

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3. How much do I have to pay?

The amount of Council Tax payable for each band is set each year and details of the amount payable for each Council Tax band can be found by clicking here

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4. How do I pay the Council Tax?

Please see the information on the How to Pay page.

 

5. I live alone, can I claim a discount?

The full Council Tax bill assumes that there are two adults living in a property. If only one adult ( aged 18 or over) lives there (as their main home), the bill will be reduced by 25%. Click here to download an application form.

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6. Are there any discounts when there is more than one adult living in a property?

Certain categories of people will not be counted when assessing the number of adults living in a property. Some examples are:

  • where a student lives with only one other adult
  • where a person with a severe mental impairment lives with only one other adult
  • where a person has moved to live in a care home leaving only one other adult living in the property.

 

The categories are listed below.

  • In prison or detained by a court order
  • Severely mentally impaired.
  • 18 or 19 year olds who are still at school or have recently left school.
  • Full time students, including student nurses.
  • Government supported trainees under 25.
  • Apprentices earning up to £195 per week.
  • Long-term residential patients in hospital or care home.
  • Carers (in some cases).
  • Monks and Nuns
  • Members of visiting armed forces, of certain international and defence organisations or have diplomatic privileges and immunities.
  • Staying in certain hostels or night shelters.

 

If a discount has been awarded it is shown on your bill. If, however, no discount is shown and you wish to apply, you can download the relevant application form by clicking here 

 

If your bill indicates that a discount has been allowed, you must tell the Council of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement within 21 days of the change occurring. If you fail to do so, you may be required to pay a penalty.

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7. This property is not my main home, am I entitled to a discount?

At a meeting on 16 January 2013 the Council resolved that from 1 April 2013 there would be no discount available where a property is unoccupied but remains furnished or is occupied as a second home.  

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8. I have to live in another property because of my job, can I get a discount?

 A Council taxpayer may be entitled to 50% discount in the Council Tax for a second home if they are liable to pay Council Tax on the second home and  their main home and either of those properties is job related.

A dwelling is job-related for a person if it is provided for him by reason of his employment, in any of the following cases -

(a) Where it is necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the employment that   the employee should reside in that dwelling.

(b) Where the dwelling is provided for the better performance of the duties of the employment, and it is one of the kinds of employment in the case of which it is customary for employers to provide dwellings to employees.

(c) Where, there being a special threat to the employee’s security, special security arrangements are in force and the employee resides in the dwelling as part of those arrangements.”

Whilst it may often be convenient for a person to live local to their work, the property must be provided by an employer under a contract of employment and they must be required to live in that particular property in order to qualify for the 50% discount.


Please click here to download an application form where a property is a job-related second home

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9. I am a student, do I have to pay Council Tax?

If all the adults living in a property are full time students then an exemption from council tax will apply. The exemption in not automatic you must apply for it by downloading an application form here.

If only one person in the property is not a full time student a 25% discount will apply. Click here to download an application form

If more than one person in the property is not a full time student then no discount will apply.

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10. Are there any exemptions from paying Council Tax?

Certain occupied and unoccupied properties are exempt from paying Council, for example if a property left empty when the owner has moved permanently into a care home

For more information click here

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11. My property is empty, can I get a discount?

From 1 April 2013 the government abolished the exemption from Council Tax for unoccupied and unfurnished properties. At a meeting on 16 January 2013 the Council resolved that from 1 April 2013 there would be no discount available where a property is unoccupied and unfurnished.

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12. My property is undergoing major repair and renovation, can I get a discount?

From 1 April 2013 the government abolished the exemption from Council Tax for properties undergoing structural alteration or major repair to render them habitable. At a meeting on 16 January 2013 the Council resolved that from 1 April 2013 there would be no discount available where a property is undergoing structural alteration or major repair to render it habitable.

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13. What is the Long Term Empty Premium?

An additional amount of Council Tax will become payable if your property has been empty for more than two years. The long term empty premium is 50% meaning that once a property has been empty for more than two years 150% Council Tax becomes payable by the owner at that time. The empty period starts from the date that the property first became empty and may include a period before you became the owner of the property. 

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14. I have a disabled person living with me, can I get a reduction in my Council Tax?

The disabled reduction scheme aims to ensure that disabled people do not pay more Council Tax because they live in a larger dwelling than they would have needed if they were not disabled. Having a disability does not automatically entitle you to a reduction.


In summary the requirements for a reduction are that the property must be the main residence of at least one disabled person and it must have at least one of the following

  • an additional bathroom or kitchen,
  • an extra room (not being a bathroom. kitchen or toilet)
  • enough space for the use of a wheelchair indoors.

The room or wheelchair must also be essential, or of major importance, to the disabled person, due to the nature and extent of their disability. To qualify for a reduction, the extra room need not be specially built but can be an existing room providing the link between its use and the person's disability is sufficiently strong.

If your home is eligible, your bill will be reduced to that of a property in the valuation band immediately below the band shown on the valuation list. If your home is in band A, the reduction will be 1/9th of Band D.

Should you wish to apply for a Disability Reduction please click here to download an application form

If your bill indicates that a discount has been allowed, you must tell the Council of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement within 21 days of the change occurring. If you fail to do so, you may be required to pay a penalty.

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15. I have an annex in the grounds of my property, is the full Council Tax payable on the annex?

There are several exemptions or discounts that may apply to an annex

If the annex is unoccupied (in as much as no-one’s lives in it) and there is a planning restriction which prevents it for being let out separately from the main property an exemption may apply under Class T. Please contact the Council with full details to apply

If the annex is occupied by

-   a dependent relative that is over the age of 65, or

-   a person who is severely mentally impaired or

-   who is disabled

an exemption under Class W may apply. Click here to download an application form

From  1 April 2014 a 50% discount is available where either

-          the annex is occupied by a close relative of the Council taxpayer of the main property, or

-          the annex is used as part of the main home of the Council taxpayer of the main property

Click here to download a family annex application

 

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16. I am on a low income, can I get any help with payment of my Council Tax?

From 1 April 2013 Council Tax benefit was replaced  by a new local Council Tax Reduction Scheme. You may be entitled to a Council Tax Support Discount if you or your partner is on a low income, even if you are working.

Council Tax Support discount will normally only be granted from the date a valid claim is received. To avoid losing any entitlement please ensure that you apply promptly.

Please click here for Council Tax Benefit and Council Tax Support home page 

If your bill indicates that a Council Tax Support discount has been allowed, you must tell the Council of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement within 21 days of the change occurring. If you fail to do so, you may be required to pay a penalty.

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17. What will happen if I don’t pay my Council Tax?

You must ensure that the Council receives your payments by the due dates shown on your bill. In the interests of all Council Taxpayers, the Council has to take recovery action if payments are not received by the due dates. This action will result in the cancellation of the instalment facility and lead to legal action for the recovery of the total amount outstanding.

If such action is necessary then this will result in additional costs of £82.00 relating to issuing a Court Summons and obtaining a Liability Order. If the Council is granted a Liability Order by the Magistrates then the Council may seek to recover the outstanding debt from you by an attachment to your earnings or benefits or your case may be passed to an enforcement agent (previously called a bailiff) who may take control of your goods to secure payment of the debt. If your case is passed to an enforcement agent then an additional fee of £75.00 will become due immediately and if the enforcement agent should have to visit you then a further fee of at least £235.00 will be payable.

It is important therefore important that you contact the Council as soon as possible if you are experiencing problems in paying your Council Tax in order to keep any additional costs to a minimum.  To contact the Council click here or telephone 01234 718079.

The Council will take recovery action in line with its agreed Fair Debt Collection policy, a copy of this may be downloaded by clicking here

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18. How do I tell the Council about my change of address?

Click here to complete an online change of address form

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19. How do I tell the Council that my circumstances have changed and I am no longer entitled to a discount/ exemption?

Click here to notify the Local Taxation Office of a change in your circumstances

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