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Your council tax band: Recent changes to council tax benefits and exemptions

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for keeping council tax bands up to date in England and Wales. Council tax bills and payments are dealt with by your local council.

From April 2014 your local councils may reduce the help you get towards your council tax bill.  Exemptions or discounts on your council tax bill may also change.  Select a link below for more information.

  1. My council has reduced the help I get towards my council tax bill
  2. My property is empty and I am being charged council tax
  3. My property is empty and being refurbished or is awaiting repair
  4. My second home now has a higher council tax bill

1. My council has reduced the help I get towards my council tax bill

The VOA does not calculate or award your council tax support; this is done by your local council.  Council tax support is entirely separate from your council tax band. Your council tax band is based on what the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.

You should only contact the VOA if you can provide information that shows that your band is wrong. It is not recommended that you contact us if you are in Band A, as this is the lowest band.  For further details go to What to do if you think your band is wrong.

2. My property is empty and I am being charged council tax

Your local council may have reduced or removed the discount on your council bill if your property is undergoing structural alterations or repairs. However, this does not affect your council tax band, which is based on what the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England or 1 April 2003 in Wales. 

You should only contact the VOA if you can provide information that shows that your council tax band is wrong. It is not recommended that you contact us if you are in Band A, as this is the lowest band. For further information go to What to do if you think your band is wrong.

3. My property is empty and being refurbished or is awaiting repair

Your local council may have reduced or removed the discount on your council bill if your property is empty. The VOA cannot reduce the band on a property just because it is in poor repair, it is being repaired, or it is empty and awaiting repair.

If your property is derelict and unfit for occupation, or it is being reconstructed into a different type of property, then the VOA could remove the council tax band altogether.  This means that no council tax would be paid until your property is made habitable. You can find out more from our guidance on properties in disrepair.  For further information about property bands go to What to do if you think your band is wrong.

4. My second home now has a higher council tax bill.

Your local council may ask owners of second homes to pay more council tax than they did before. This is not a valid reason to challenge your council tax band, which is based on what the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.  You should only contact the VOA if you can provide information that shows that your council tax band is wrong.  It is not recommended that you contact us if you’re already in Band A, as this is the lowest band. For further details go to What to do if you think your band is wrong.

General information about Council Tax
Whats the VOA's role in Council Tax?

The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for banding all homes in England and Wales Council Tax. We keep the council tax bands of some 23 million homes in England and 1.3 million in Wales up to date, to support the collection of around 26 billion in council tax.

Council Tax was introduced in England and Wales in 1993 to replace the Community Charge and bands are based on property valuations at 1 April 1991. Council tax bands for Wales were revalued from 1 April 2005 based on property values as at 1 April 2003.

VOAs instructions & guidance
  • Council Tax Manual
    • The Manual provides VOA staff with detailed information about the legislation, procedures and processes which underpin the operation of the council tax system in England and Wales.
  • Home Inspections and photographs
    • Explains the VOAs approach to inspecting properties for council tax purposes. It also provides details of the circumstances when photos are taken and how the photos may be used.
  • Property Details Guide
    • Explains what property details are captured and for what purpose.
  • Published Data
    • News items, recent data releases and details about some of the information used to band properties.
Further guidance on specific aspects of Council Tax and property types