Your Council Tax bill
These notes are for guidance and they should not be regarded as a complete guide to the law about Council Tax.
Council Tax bands
Most residential properties are subject to Council Tax. There is one bill per property, whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette, mobile home, or houseboat, and whether it is owned or rented. The value of each property is assessed by the Listing Officer of the Valuation Office Agency (part of HM Revenue & Customs).
Each property is placed in one of eight bands based on its estimated open market capital value at 1 April 1991. The band for your dwelling is shown on your bill. The eight bands are as follows:
- A – Up to and including £40,000
- B – £40,001 - £52,000
- C – £52,001 - £68,000
- D – £68,001 - £88,000
- E – £88,001 - £120,000
- F – £120.001 - £160,000
- G – £160,001 - £320,000
- H – More than £320,000
The Council Tax valuations are based on the price a property would have fetched if it had been sold on 1 April 1991. Any increase or fall in value which results from general charges in the housing market since then will not affect a property's valuation. Such movements in general prices will not be a reason for changing your Council Tax band.
Visit our Council Tax payable page to view the Council Tax rates for each band around the Bedford Borough area.
If you think your home should be in a different band you may be able to appeal to the Valuation Office Agency. Read below for further information around appeals
Please see the Council Tax Discounts page for more information.
Empty / unoccupied properties
The Council charges the full Council Tax for properties that are unoccupied (this includes empty properties and properties that are furnished but are not anyone's main home).
An extra 50% is also charged for a property that has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more.
Certain classes of properties are exempt from Council Tax, this means there is no bill to pay. Some exemptions apply for a fixed time and others apply until there is a change of circumstances.
The classes of properties that are exempt are:
- A – (This class no longer applies).
- B – Unoccupied for less than six months and owned by a charity.
- C – (This class no longer applies).
- D – A property left empty by a person in detention (e.g. in prison).
- E – A property left empty by a person who has become a patient resident in a hospital or care home
- F – An unoccupied property that forms part of the estate of a person who has died (in which case the property is exempt for up to 6 months from the grant of probate or letters of administration), or an unoccupied property in which the deceased person was a tenant of the dwelling at the date of death and an executor or administrator is liable for rent or a licence fee.
- G – A property where occupation is prohibited by law.
- H – An unoccupied property which is awaiting occupation by ministers of religion from which they will perform their duties.
- I – A property left empty by a person who has moved to receive care.
- J – A property left empty by a person who has moved to provide care to another person.
- K – A property left empty by a student who has moved away to study.
- L – A property repossessed by a mortgage lender
- M – Student Halls of Residence.
- N – A property occupied only by full-time students.
- O – A property owned by the Ministry of Defence, and used as accommodation for armed forces personnel.
- P – A property where the liable person is a member of a visiting armed force.
- Q – An Unoccupied property which is the responsibility of a bankrupt's trustee.
- R – A property consisting of a caravan pitch or a boat mooring which is not occupied by a caravan or houseboat.
- S – A property occupied only by under 18 year olds.
- T – An unoccupied property which forms part of a single property which includes another property and may not be let separately from that other property without a breach of planning control. (S.171A Town & Country Planning Act 1990) for example an annexe.
- U – A property occupied only by a person or persons who is or are severely mentally impaired who would be liable to pay the Council Tax.
- V – A property where the liable person entitled to diplomatic privileges or immunities.
- W – A property that is a self-contained unit attached to or within the grounds of another property, where one of the self-contained properties is occupied by a dependent relative of a person who lives in the other part of the property.
If you think your property may be exempt, download an application form.
If your bill shows that an exemption 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.
People with disabilities
To qualify for a reduction in Council Tax the property must be the main residence of at least one person with a disability and it must have at least one of:
• 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 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.
Council Tax support
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. You may also be able to claim housing benefit if you pay rent.
- Apply for Council Tax support and/or housing benefit online (you need to register first to access online services).
Council Tax Support discount will normally only be granted from the date a valid claim is received. To avoid losing any benefit entitlements please ensure that you apply promptly.
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.
How to pay your Council Tax
Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment of your Council Tax.
If your appeal is successful, you will be entitled to a refund of any overpaid tax.
The grounds for appeal about banding are restricted to the following cases:
where you believe that the banding should be changed because there has been a material increase or material reduction (these are explained below) in a dwelling's value;
- where you start or stop using part of your dwelling to carry out a business, or the balance between domestic and business use changes;
- where the Listing Officer has altered the valuation list without a proposal having been made by a taxpayer;
- where you become the taxpayer in respect of a dwelling for the first time. (Your appeal must be made within 6 months, but if the same appeal has already been considered by a Valuation Tribunal, it cannot be made again);
- where you believe that account has not been taken of a relevant decision, regarding a particular dwelling or a particular class of dwelling, of a Valuation Tribunal or the High Court. (Your appeal must be made within 6 months of the relevant decision.)
A material increase in value may result from building, engineering, or other work carried out on the dwelling. In these cases, revaluation does not take place until after a sale - so the person appealing would usually be the new owner or resident.
A material reduction in value may result from the demolition of any part of the dwelling, any change in the physical state of the local area, or an adaption to make the dwelling suitable for use by someone with a physical disability. In these cases, revaluation should take place as soon as possible.
If you wish to appeal against your banding, you should not contact the Council but you should contact the Valuation Office Agency
You may appeal to the Council if you believe:
- you are not liable to pay Council Tax as you are not the resident or owner
- your dwelling is exempt
- the Council has not awarded a discount or a disabled person's reduction.
If you wish to appeal on these grounds, you must write to the Council so that your case can be reconsidered. If you remain dissatisfied on receipt of the Council's reply, you may appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. Further details of the appeal procedures (including the role of Valuation Tribunals) may be obtained from the Local Taxation Office.
Advise the Council of a change of address online here (you will have to firstly register to use online services if you have not already done so).
Any enquiries concerning your bill or these notes should be addressed to:
Bedford Borough Council