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Additional information about your bill

Changes to Council Tax Support, Discounts and Exemptions

From 1st April 2013 there are important changes that mean some people who have not had to pay Council Tax before will now have to make payments.

Council Tax Benefit is ending

The help you get to pay your Council Tax has changed from 1st April 2013. There will be a new scheme called Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). Anyone who would have previously qualified for Council Tax Benefit as at 1st April 2013 will automatically be transferred to the new scheme. 

Exemptions and Discounts are changing

Changes will be introduced to the levels of discounts and exemptions applied to empty properties and second homes. 

Who has to pay Council Tax?

Council Tax is the responsibility of the people who live in the property and normally the owner's responsibility if the property is unoccupied. The full Tax assumes that there are at least two adults living in the property. If there is only one person living in your home you may be eligible for a discount.

Council Tax Banding

The amount of Council Tax you pay varies depending on the band that your property has been put into by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The VOA puts each property into one of eight valuation bands based on open market values at 1 April 1991. More information is available at www.voa.gov.uk

Council Tax Appeals

If you think your Council Tax band is wrong 

If you do not agree with your Council Tax band you have to appeal to the Valuation Office rather than Colchester Borough Council. More information is available at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals/challenge-your-band.  

If you think your Council Tax liability is wrong
If you do not agree that you are liable for Council Tax, or disagree with the level of a discount or the application of a discount you can appeal to Colchester Borough Council in writing to the address on your Council Tax bill.

Local Council Tax Support Appeals

If you are receiving Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) but disagree with our decision you can ask us to explain our decision. If you still disagree you can ask for an appeal.

Making any appeal does not mean you can withhold payment of Council Tax. If your appeal is successful, future payments will be reduced and any overpayments refunded.

Is my property exempt from Council Tax?

You may be entitled to an exemption if your property is:

Unoccupied

  •  Empty and owned by a charity (exemption up to six months only)
  • Left empty by a person in prison or other form of detention
  • Left empty by a person permanently resident
  • in a hospital or care home
  • Left empty where the liable person has died and the deceased's executors or personal representatives are now liable (up to six months after grant of Probate)
  • A property where occupation is prohibited by law
  • Empty and held for occupation by a minister of religion from which to perform his/her duties
  • Left empty by a person receiving care
  • Left empty by a person providing care
  • Left empty by a student who owns the property
  • Unoccupied and in the possession of the mortgagee
  • Left empty by a bankrupt where the Trustee in bankruptcy is liable 
  • An empty caravan pitch or boat mooring
  • An unoccupied annexe unable to be let separately.

Occupied

  • Halls of residence
  • Occupied by full-time students and non-British spouses of students
  • Occupied by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for armed forces accommodation (e.g. forces barracks or married quarters)
  • Occupied by a member of a relevant visiting force (for example, the United States Air Force)
  • Occupied only by persons aged under 18
  • Occupied only by persons who are severely mentally impaired
  • A property that is the main residence of a person with diplomatic privilege or immunity.
  • An annexe occupied by certain dependant relatives of the resident(s) living in the main property.

Empty Home Premium

If your property is unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 2 years you may have to pay an additional 50% empty homes premium. This means you will be charged 150% of the normal Council Tax for your property.

Do I qualify for a discount?

The full Council Tax assumes there are two or more adults living in a property. If only one adult lives in a property, the Council Tax is reduced by 25%. People in the following groups may not be liable for Council Tax and may not count towards the number of adults resident in a property:

  • Full-time students and non-British spouses of students, student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees
  • Patients resident in a hospital or care home permanently
  • People who are severely mentally impaired 
  • People who are staying in certain hostels for the homeless or night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year olds who are at, or have just left school and Child Benefit is in payment
  • Certain types of care workers, usually working for charities
  • People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • Members of religious communities
  • People in prison or other forms of detention
  • People with diplomatic privilege or immunity
  • Members and dependants of International Headquarters and Defence Organisations
  • Members or dependants of visiting forces.

Reductions for people with disabilities

The Council Tax bill may be reduced for properties that have a special room set aside for the needs of a resident disabled person. An additional bathroom or kitchen required by the disabled person or sufficient floor space to allow the use of a wheelchair indoors may also qualify. The relief is the equivalent to reducing the valuation band to the one below, and
ensures that disabled people do not pay more because of a need for extra space.

Local Council Tax Support (LCTS)

If you are on a low income, you may qualify for help through Local Council Tax Support (LCTS). You could receive help, even if you are working. The amount awarded will depend on the amount you are liable to pay, the needs of your family, your income, your savings and anyone else living with you. If you think you may qualify for LCTS you will need to make a claim which can be done online at www.colchester.gov.uk/claim

Reminders & Summonses

Everyone has the right to pay Council Tax by instalments, but you must pay regularly on or before the instalment due date shown on your bill. If your payments fall behind more than twice in a year you can lose that right.

We check accounts every month. If you do not pay an instalment when it is due, we will send you a reminder asking you to pay it within seven days. If you do not pay after the reminder, or it is the second time that you have fallen behind with your payments in one financial year, you may lose your right to pay by instalments.

If this happens, you will have seven days to pay the balance of your account (the amount outstanding for the rest of the financial year). If you do not pay your account in full, we will send a court summons for the outstanding balance.
Court costs will be added. If you are having problems paying your bill, tell us immediately.  You might qualify for a discount, or we may be able to help by making a special payment arrangement.

Financial information

Financial information about Colchester Borough Council, the County Council and the Police Authority is no longer included with your bill but is available online. Please go to www.colchester.gov.uk/counciltax

Frequently Asked Questions

I pay by Direct Debit - do I need to do anything?
No. Your Direct Debit will automatically carry over to your new bill and we will collect instalments on the date shown.

How do I set up a Direct Debit?
Complete our online form online at www.colchester.gov.uk/directdebit

How can I pay?
Payment options are shown on the back of your bill. Details are also on www.colchester.gov.uk/payments

My circumstances have changed and my bill needs updating
If your address details have changed you can report these online at http://www.colchester.gov.uk/moving

How do I apply for a discount or an exemption?
You can apply online at http://www.colchester.gov.uk/article/12519/Discounts-Exemptions-and-Flooding-Relief