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Why do I need to pay council tax and what does it pay for

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Council tax is raised on all domestic property in the UK and it is calculated based on the value of a property in 1991. Council tax is usually payable by the occupier of a property, subject to various exemptions. Exemptions or deductions might be granted dependent on personal circumstances of the occupant or the type of residence.

The amount of council tax payable on a particular residential property depends on the notional value of the property at the 1991 valuation date. The higher the value, the more tax levied. Bands vary from Band A (up to £40,000 value in 1991) up to Band H (over £320,000 in 1991). Approximately 25% of a council’s revenue is generated through the imposition of council tax.

Council tax pays towards the following services;

  • Library services and certain classes at Further Education Colleges
  • Police and fire service contributions
  • Street cleaning and waste collection
  • Water and sewerage services (in Scotland)
  • Maintenance and upkeep for public spaces, parks, galleries, theatres, museums, leisure centres and community swimming pools and museums
  • Social services
  • Schools, education and youth services: In England, schools are funded by the central government’s Dedicated Schools Grant but additional services might be paid for by the local authority.
  • Council Housing & Housing Benefits
  • Street lighting and non-trunk road and bridge maintenance
  • General administration and record keeping (eg Registry of births and deaths, marriages, etc)

In some instances local authorities offer deductions or exemptions. For example, if one adult occupies a property a 25% deduction may be available upon application. Alternatively, where a property remains vacant for a period of time, some local authorities are now applying a punitive council tax multiplier aimed at ‘incentivising’ owners to let out vacant property.

Failure to pay council tax is a criminal offence.

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