Can you appeal against your council tax banding?
12th Nov 2015
Council tax might be a necessary payment for all of us, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to keep paying the same amount. It’s estimated that thousands of us across England and Scotland could be paying council tax in the wrong band, due to an outdated banding system.
But how do you know if you’re in the same band as your neighbours? And if you think you’re unfairly being overcharged compared to everyone else in your area, is there anything you can do about this? Let’s take a look at what options you have.
Value of houses
When the bands for council tax were first decided in 1991, properties were assigned to specific groups, often by people who had no knowledge of the local area. The bands were supposed to be based on the value of the property, so if your house was worth more, you’d pay more. However, as houses were just assigned a group by roughly estimating their worth, it meant that a lot of properties ended up in the wrong band.
Here’s how the bands were decided, based on 1991 property price estimates:
Council tax band-England
Value of property
Up to £40,000
Between £40,000.01 and £52,000
Between £52,000.01 and £68,000
Between £68,000.01 and £88,000
Between £88,000.01 and £120,000
Between £120,000.01 and £160,000
Between £160,000.01 and £320,000
Council tax band-Scotland
Value of property
Up to £27,000
Between £27,000.01 and £35,000
Between £35,000.01 and £45,000
Between £45,000.01 and £58,000
Between £58,000.01 and £80,000
Between £80,000.01 and £106,000
Between £106,000.01 and £212,000
You can find out whether other properties on your street are in the same council tax band as you by using the Government’s free postcode checker. This might not necessarily be a good gauge of what council tax band your house should be in – for example, if your road features lots of different house types and sizes. But if you’re living in a terraced house, you’re paying council tax under band B and you find out that your neighbours only pay band A, you might want to challenge this.
How to appeal
Before you appeal to try and get your council tax band changed, it’s worth checking how much your house was worth in 1991. If it turns out you’re actually in the right band and it’s your neighbours that are paying the wrong amount of council tax, this could mean that their bands will be changed and they’ll all have to pay more.
This house price calculator from Nationwide is a useful tool, as you can put in the value of your house now – or whenever you last had it valued – and work out how much it was worth in 1991. If you still think you’re being overcharged for council tax, you can get in touch with the Government to appeal.
Get in touch with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) by phone if you think your band is wrong. If they agree that you’re not being charged the right amount for council tax – like if your neighbours are all paying differently – they could update your bill. This means you could get some money back for the amount you’ve been overcharged. As these payments can be backdated for the whole time you’ve been living and paying council tax in the property, it’s well worth doing – you could get hundreds or even thousands of pounds back.
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