Number of council tax bill challenges went up by nearly a third last year - here's how you do it

31 May 2019
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The number of people who managed to successfully challenge their council tax bill rose last year, new figures reveal.

11,910 people managed to successfully challenge their council tax bill last year, up 1,790 from the previous year, according to the Valuation Office Agency.

In the 2018/19 tax year 31% of people asking for their band to be checked saw their bills fall as a result – up 25% on the previous year.

Of the 38,350 cases that were resolved in 2018/19, only 30 bills were increased, while 23,390 stayed the same.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “It’s time to stop worrying about rising council tax bills, and join the fight to make sure you’re not overpaying. Because while the number of people prepared to challenge their bills is falling - those who do it are more likely to see their bills cut.

“There’s a good reason why the number of challenges is dropping. The issue was first in the spotlight more than ten years ago, so hundreds of thousands of people have already confronted their council.

"However, there are plenty of people who could still have a claim, who have been putting it off for years, and for them, the latest set of figures bring hope.”

Making a challenge

Check with your neighbours

If you have a good relationship with your neighbours you could ask them how much they pay for their council tax.

Alternatively, you could check what they are paying for their council tax on the Valuation Office Agency website.

Find your house value

First of all, you should find out how much your house was worth in 1991 as this is when the council tax bands were first decided.

If you bought your house after 1991 you can use the price and date of the sale to find out its value.

You can also use a house price website such as Zoopla or Rightmove to find out the price.

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

Challenging your band

If you are convinced your property is in the wrong band after doing these checks you can then make a challenge.

If you live in England, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency, which will tell you how your band was decided. This will give you the opportunity to put your case forward and explain why you think it is wrong.

If you live in Scotland you will have to contact the Scottish Assessors Association. Just put in your details, choose ‘make a proposal’ and they will get in touch with you.

A warning however. If you challenge your council tax band, it could rise as well as fall. Indeed, it could cause your neighbours' to rise too. 

Read our full guide to challenging your council tax bill.

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