How to challenge your council tax bill

Council tax is one of the most loathed taxes in the UK, so make sure you aren’t paying more than you should. Moneywise TV explains how to claim a discount - and how you can challenge your council tax band.  
 

Council tax is, without doubt, one of the most loathed taxes in the UK. And with many households set to see their bill rise this year, it's not likely to get any more popular in the foreseeable future.

But many people might be paying too much  council tax – either because they aren't claiming available discounts or because their property is in the wrong band.

The first thing to do is check whether you're eligible for any discounts which could shave up to 25% off your bill. Get in touch with your local council to find out more.

Even if you don't qualify for a discount, you may still be paying too much council tax. If you can prove that your property is in a higher band then than it should be, then as well as reducing your council tax bill, you could also reclaim overpayments potentially back to 1993.

You can check your current council tax band on your last bill, or by entering your postcode on the Valuation Office Agency website. It's also worth asking neighbours with similar houses how much they pay – if there's a big difference then the alarm bells should ring.

Council tax bands are based on the value of property in 1991, when the council tax system was set up – so general house price inflation is not a valid reason to challenge your band.

However, you could challenge your band based on a 'material' change to the value of your home. Examples might include physical changes in your area, or changes to your property itself such as adapting it for a disabled person or demolishing the garage.

Before you get in touch the Valuation Agency make sure you do your research and have good grounds to challenge your rating – bear in mind it does also have the power to move you into a higher band and increase you bill if you've made improvements.

There are a number of firms out there that offer to help you challenge your council tax band in return for a fee. Many of these firms are scams, asking for payment upfront or your bank details – so  steer clear.  It's completely free to challenge your band yourself and the Valuation Office Agency will help you as much as possible.