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.