Council Tax - Who has to pay?
Who should pay?
Council tax has to be paid on every property that is not exempt. Every council tax bill is addressed to the person or persons that we consider liable to pay it.
Who is liable to pay?
In most cases, over 18s living in the property who own or rent will be liable for council tax. If more than one person owns or leases the property, they will be equally responsible. The partner of someone is also jointly liable for council tax, whether or not they are married.
Owners and landlords
If no one lives in the property then the owner of the home will be liable. Owners and landlords are also responsible for properties that are specifically built for many people to live or stay in such as hostels, care homes and student accommodation.
The person who must pay the bill is known as the 'liable person'. One person will usually be liable to pay council tax and their name will appear on the bill. In most cases you will be the liable person if you live in the property as the occupier. This could be as either the owner (if you have a mortgage or own the property out right) or a tenant (with your name on the rent book) and pay rent to the owner. If you neither own the property nor rent it, you are still liable to pay the council tax bill if you live there.
Sometimes the owner has to pay council tax and not the residents. These properties include:
- Residential Care Homes
- Properties occupied by resident domestic staff only (for example people working in hotels)
- Religious Communities
- Properties occupied by a Minister of Religion
- Houses in Multiple Occupation (see H.M.O below)
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Landlords and tenants of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are often confused about the fact that owners, not tenants, are responsible for paying council tax on these properties. Although the owner has to pay the council tax bill, they may add it on to any rent or fee you have to pay.
What is a HMO?
For the purpose of council tax liability,a 'House in Multiple Occupation' is built or adapted for occupation by people, but who don't live as a single household or a dwelling which is occupied by people who have a tenancy or licence to live in only part of the a dwelling, or who pays rent or a license fee for only part of the dwelling.
For example; a house which has been divided into separate bedsits is a good example of an HMO under this category, but a block of flats does not come into this category because each flat in the block is a separate, self contained dwelling in its own right.
What if no one lives in the property?
In most cases there will still be some council tax to pay if the property is unoccupied. This is usually the responsibility of the owner of the property. For further information please see Council Tax Exemptions
What if I live between two properties?
If you have more than one home or work away from home, it is important to clarify where your main residence is. This is a major factor in deciding how much council tax you pay. In most cases you would not be entitled to a reduction at your second property as this would not be considered your sole or main residence.
Appeals against Council Tax Liability
There are a number of decisions the Council may have to make in determining whether you are liable and how much Council Tax you are liable to pay. You are entitled to formally appeal against any of these decisions.
You can appeal if:
- You disagree with our decision that a dwelling is chargeable (i.e. you believe it should be exempt)
- You disagree with our decision that you are liable to pay Council Tax on a particular dwelling (e.g. you are not the resident or the owner)
- You disagree with certain aspects of the calculation of your bill (e.g. a discount has not been applied or no reduction for disabilities has been given)
Firstly, you must write to the Council Tax Section, Revenues Department, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. You should state your name and address, the reference number on your bill (if known) and explain what you object to and why.
When we receive your letter, we may need to ask you for further information. If we reject your arguments, or if we act on your complaint but you are still not satisfied, or at the end of two months you have not heard from us, you will be able to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal, we can give you the address of your local Tribunal who will explain what you need to do to continue your appeal.
Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment of Council Tax in the meantime. If your appeal is successful, you will be entitled to a refund of any overpaid tax.
Need more information?
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Did you know that most Council Tax, Business Rates or Housing Benefit enquiries we receive could be answered by using our new online MyAccount service?
MyAccount is a free, interactive and secure online service that allows you to access these services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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