Checking your council tax band

Wednesday 3 April, 2019 Money Advice

A quick check of your council tax band could save you money! It’s estimated that up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland could have been placed in the wrong council tax band.

A 10-minute check will show you if you are being overcharged, past or present. The check is completely free and by doing so, you may be able to challenge your banding, not only slashing what you pay now, but also getting a backdated rebate stretching back as far as 1993.


What is a council tax band?

In 1991, the government launched its new council tax system, in which every property in the UK had to be placed into a valuation band, which corresponded with the price the property would have sold for on the open market.

The task was huge, so much so that the government asked estate agents and others to help. However, even with all the estate agents’ help, they simply didn’t have the time or resources to get detailed information together. This led to it being done quickly driving down countless streets allocating a band to properties just by taking a glance.


How much could I get back?

Whilst there is no set amount you can get back, if you were to get your banding decreased you could be paying as much as £100-£400 less each year. On top of that, the repayment should be backdated to when you first moved into the property, as far back as when the tax first started in 1993.


Where can I check if my council tax band is correct?

Checking if your council tax band is correct can take as little as 10 minutes and is off absolutely no cost to you. You can check if your council tax band if correct here, on the GOV.co.uk website. All you need to enter is your postcode!


How to claim council tax: step by step


Step 1 – Check your neighbours

It’s vital that you first check your band, followed by your neighbours’. Make sure the properties are as close as possible in size and valuation.

You can simply ask them, but if you don’t fancy that don’t worry as it is public information. The band of every home in England and Scotland is available via these websites:

England – Valuation Office Agency

Scotland – Scottish Assessors Association

Due to the sheer size of the database, some properties have been missed off. If this is the case for you, ask your neighbour or contact the council and ask why.

If you find your neighbours in similar properties are in a lower band than you, you may have a claim, though it could be that they’re all in the wrong band, that’s why it is vital to carry out the valuation check!


Step 2: The Valuation Check

The second thing that you MUST do is to estimate the cost of your house in 1991, as that is when council tax bands were determined.

It’s important to note that this cannot be used as evidence if you challenge your band, but it enables you to check out the various house prices on your street and it’s an important test that you’re on the right track if you do decide to challenge your council tax band.


Valuing your house

If you bought your home after 1991, you can simply use the price and sale date to do this. If it was earlier than this, you will need to find an estimated price. To find a price quickly, use a website which offers free historic sales price information. These include Zoopla and Rightmove.

Note down the price and date.


Now - find what it was worth in 1991

Once you have this information you can use it to estimate how much your property was worth in 1991 by using the Nationwide House Price Calculator.

Now you can compare the estimated valuation of your property in 1991 to the table below:

Council Tax Band

England 1991 Property Value

Scotland 1991 Property Value

A

All properties under £40,000

All properties under £27,000

B

£40,001 – £52,000

£27,001 – £35,000

C

£52,001 – £68,000

£35,001 – £45,000

D

£68,001 – £88,000

£45,001 – £58,000

E

£88,001 – £120,000

£58,001 – £80,000

F

£120,001 – £160,000

£80,001 – £106,000

G

£160,001 – £320,000

£106,001 – £212,000

H

Over £320,000

Over £212,000


Are you in the wrong band?

If you’re convinced your property band is unfair and you have completed both the checks above it’s time to challenge it.

If you’re in England Gov.uk explains how to go about challenging your council tax band. You can either contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) directly, at which point you’ll be told how your band was decided and have the opportunity to explain why you believe it is wrong and how it should be altered.

Alternatively you can check your band by entering your postcode and selecting your address from a list. Then you can click on the link asking if you think your council tax banding is wrong and you’ll be given the option to fill out a checklist which suggests reasons you could challenge.

In Scotland, the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) deals with council tax bands. Enter your postcode in the Council Tax search box on the SAA Homepage. Select your property from the list. If you want to challenge the banding, click on “Make a proposal”. You can then fill in an online form which will be sent to your local assessor, who will contact you.

Remember it is vital you carry out both the neighbour and Valuation check before you challenge your council tax band. Failure to do so could result in your neighbour’s band increasing, although it is extremely rare.