Frequently asked questions

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Paying your Council Tax

Who has to pay Council Tax?

There is one Council Tax bill for each domestic property whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette, mobile home or houseboat and whether it is owned or rented. In terms of who is liable to pay, the Council Tax legislation states there is an order of priority or “hierarchy”.

Click here for more information about who is liable to pay Council Tax.

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How do I pay my Council Tax Bill?

There are a number of different ways that you can pay your Council Tax.

Click here for details of the various ways to pay.

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When do I have to pay my Council Tax?

Your Council Tax instalments are due on the 1st of each month (unless you choose to pay by direct debit when you have the option to pay on the 1st or the 15th of the month). It is very important that you pay on the due dates shown on your Council Tax Bill otherwise you will receive a Reminder Notice. If you continue to fail to pay as shown on your Council Tax bill Court action may follow which will involve costs being added to your account.

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Date of last review: 08 March 2016

Council Tax Bands and appeals if you think your bill is incorrect

What is the Council Tax band for my property and how has this been decided?

The Council Tax bands for each domestic property have been set by the Valuation Office Agency which is part of HM Revenue and Customs. Details of banding are available on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website. You can use their online search facility to identify the banding for your property. Properties have been placed in one of eight bands according to their open market capital value at 1st April 1991.


Your Council Tax bill states which band applies to your property. The Valuation Bands and range of values are as follows :

Valuation Band  Range of Values (based on open market value at 1st April 1991)
      
       A   Up to and including £40,000
      
       B   £40,001 - £52,000

       C   £52,001 - £68,000

       D   £68,001 - £88,000

       E   £88,001- £120,000

       F    £120,001 - £160,000

       G   £160,001 - £320,000

       H   More than £320,000.

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I think the Council Tax band for my property is too high. How can I appeal against the banding?

Your property’s Council Tax band is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).  If you disagree with it, you must contact the Listing Officer at the VOA, not St Albans District Council.  You must keep paying your original Council Tax bill while your appeal is ongoing.

Further information is available here.

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My property’s band has been reduced by the Valuation Office. Will I be receiving a refund of any overpaid Council Tax?

Yes- Once we have received notification from the Valuation Office Agency of the new banding for your property we will calculate how much you have overpaid for each completed financial year that is affected by the alteration. An account will be sent to you showing any amounts you have overpaid together with a form to claim your refund. On receipt of the refund request form a refund will subsequently be issued either by cheque or directly to your bank account by a bacs payment if you pay your Council Tax by direct debit.

Your current year’s instalments will be recalculated to reflect the band reduction.

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Why is a neighbours house in a lower band than mine/ours?

Council Tax bands are based on the open market value of the property on 1st April 1991 and not on its current value. Some properties which appear to be the same therefore may be in different Council Tax band.

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I think my Council bill is incorrect, how can I appeal?

You must keep paying your original Council Tax bill while you appeal. 

If you wish to make an appeal you should write to us, giving your reasons why you think your bill is wrong to:

The Revenues Service,
St Albans District Council,
Civic Offices, St Peters Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3JE

We will look at your account again, and may ask you for more information to help us make our decision. We will make our decision within two months of receiving your letter.

We will either:

  • Decide that your bill is right, and explain our reasons for this
  • Agree that your bill was wrong, and send you a new bill and an explanation of the steps we have taken to correct it.

Appealing our decision

If you still disagree with your bill, or we do not reply within two months, you can appeal to a Valuation Tribunal.  You will need to explain:

  • The decision you are appealing against
  • Why you disagree with our decision

You need to appeal within two months of receiving our reply or within four months of writing to us if we have not replied to you.

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Date of last review: 08 March 2016

I/We are on a low income/not working. Can I/We get any help with paying our Council Tax?

Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by a Localised Council Tax Support scheme from 1st April 2013.  If you are not currently in receipt of this type of discount you may be able to get some help with your Council Tax payments dependent upon your circumstances. Please contact our Council Tax Support Team on 01727 819476. Read more in the Benefits section of our website.
Date of last review: 08 March 2016

Change of circumstances

How do I let the Council know about my move in order to update my Council Tax records?

Please fill in our Council Tax -  Change of Address online form.

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Why do you need the exact date that I purchased my property?

Council Tax is calculated on a daily basis and therefore to ensure that you are liable for the correct period of time we require the exact date.

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What should I do if someone dies?

We understand that when someone dies there are a lots of things you need to do. The earlier you contact us after someone dies, the sooner we can adjust their Council Tax Account. We will need to know:

  - The date the person died (Please provide a copy of the death certificate).
  - Whether the person who died was the tenant or the owner of the property.
  - The date furniture is removed from the property.
  - The name and address of the Executors or Solicitors dealing with the deceased person’s Estate.
  - The date probate is granted (if applied for).
  - The date of any subsequent sale or transfer into the beneficiaries names together with the purchaser’s details.

If you are the Executor or Administrator of the estate and the deceased person’s property is unoccupied,you won’t have to pay Council Tax whilst Probate or Letters of Administration are being sought, and thereafter for six months following the granting of Probate or Administration. If the property remains empty after this period a charge will apply.

St Albans District Council regularly reviews all cases where Council Tax exemptions are awarded including those where a property has been left empty following the death of a Taxpayer.

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Date of last review: 31 October 2016

Discounts and Exemptions

I am the only adult living at my property. Am I entitled to a discount?

The full council tax bill assumes that there are two adults living in the dwelling. If only one adult lives in the dwelling, the council tax bill can, upon application, be reduced by 25%.

If you believe you are entitled to a single persons discount please apply online.

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I am disabled. Am I entitled to any reduction in my Council Tax?

If your property has been specially adapted you may be entitled to a reduction in the Council Tax band of your property which will result in a reduction in the amount you currently pay.

Click here for more information about Council Tax Band Reductions.

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I am a carer. Can I get a reduction in my Council Tax?

If you are a carer you, or the person you are caring for, may qualify for a reduction in Council Tax.

Click here to see if you can qualify for a carer's discount.

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Can I get an exemption from the payment of Council Tax?

Some properties are exempt from Council Tax dependent upon the liable persons circumstances and the status of the property.

Click here for more detailed information about Council Tax Exemptions.doc

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I/We are full time students. Do we still have to pay Council Tax?

If the household is entirely occupied by full time students you are likely to be entitled to an full exemption from the payment of Council Tax. For further information please ring us on (01727) 819204/819205.

Click here for further information about student discounts and exemptions.

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There are three of us living in the property but the other two are Students. Do I still have to pay Council Tax?

Yes you do but as the two students will not be counted (because students are disregarded for Council Tax purposes) you will be treated as if you were the only resident and receive a 25% discount. To determine whether you are entitled to the reduction, you would need to provide us with student certificates from the place of education for each student who is resident in your home.

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All of the occupiers of the property are full time students. Do we have to pay Council Tax?

No. Students attending a full time qualifying course will be exempt from the payment of Council Tax. The course should last at least 24 weeks of the year and involve at least 21 hours of study per week. In order to qualify for this exemption each student who is resident would need to provide us with a student certificate from their place of education.

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Are there any other Council Tax discounts I may be entitled to?

There are are number of discounts that are available to customers if they meet certain criteria. 

Click here for more information on Council Tax discounts and disregards.

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Date of last review: 31 October 2016

What happens if I don’t pay my Council Tax?

Why have you sent me a Reminder/Final Notice?

By law, the Council must send a Reminder if your instalments as set out within your Council Tax Demand Notice  are not paid.

Similarly, the Council can only issue 2 Reminder Notices on an account in any financial year. If you miss an instalment for the third time you lose the right to pay by instalments and will receive a Final Notice requesting the full outstanding balance.

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Why have I received a reminder when my instalment has already been paid?

If the payment has crossed with the reminder notice and has now been credited to your account no further action will be taken. If the payment has not been credited to your account you should contact the Recovery Section immediately with details of the payment, including where and when it was made and quoting any relevant receipt number.

If the payment was by cheque you should check with your bank to see if the cheque has been cashed.

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If I pay at the post office why I have I received a reminder notice?

Payments made at the Post Office can take upto 10 days to reach your Council Tax account. We have no way of knowing you have paid until the money is actually on your Council Tax account, and reminders can be sent as soon as a payment is 7 days overdue. So, even if you have paid regularly, if your payment is late you may get a reminder.

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Why have you sent me a Reminder Notice as my bill will be paid by the end of March before the next bill is issued?

Your Council Tax is payable in 10 monthly instalments currently due on the 1st of each month from April to January.

If you do not pay the instalments shown on your bill you will receive a Reminder Notice. This will give you 7 days to bring your instalments upto date. If you do not pay in accordance with the Reminder Notice a Summons will be issued shortly afterwards. According to law you can only receive a maximum of 2 reminder notices in any financial year. If you miss an instalment for a third time in the year you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the full amount will become due. A Final Notice will be issued demanding payment of the full outstanding amount within 7 days. If the amount is not paid a summons will be issued against you shortly afterwards.

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Why can I not pay my monthly Council Tax instalments at the end of the month?

 The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 state the Council Tax shall be payable by 10 monthly instalments from April to January and that those instalments will be due on 1st of each month. The due dates and amounts due are clearly shown on your Council Tax bill. If you alter the amount or date you pay you are not paying in accordance with how the laws states you should pay your Council Tax and therefore you run the risk of being sent Reminder Notices and a summons which will involve costs payable by you.

Although we appreciate that it may be more convenient for some customers to pay towards the end of each month rather than at the beginning the Council has to budget in much the same way as any typical family household only on a much larger scale. Since the law states that your instalments should be paid on the 1st of each month the Council budgets on the expectation that the amounts will be paid on time. If a large number of Taxpayers delayed paying their instalments this would affect our cashflow and lead to the Council increasing its borrowing and ultimately increase the cost of prodiving services to the public.

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I do not agree with the amount you say I owe on the Reminder/Final Notice.

If you think the amount shown on the Reminder Notice is incorrect please contact us immediately on 01727 819299 or alternatively you can e-mail us at counciltaxrecovery@stalbans.gov.uk


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I cannot pay the full amount shown on the First/Second Reminder Notice/Final Notice, what will happen?

You are likely to receive a Summons in the near future. You should contact the Recovery Section immediately on (01727) 819299 to discuss the matter.

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I have received a summons. This is the first document I have received from you!

The council cannot, in law, send you a summons unless;

you have previously had a bill, and at least one reminder notice,
The council keeps a record of all reminders, finals and summonses which leave the office to verify that they have been posted. If you have not received any documents prior to the summons there are two possibilities:

1) the reminder has gone astray in the post

or

2) you have moved, and either the council does not yet know this, or we did not have the information when previous notices were sent to you

Neither of these reasons will make the summons invalid, so it is important that you contact the Recovery Section immediately to make sure we have all the correct information about your current address and, if necessary the information we need to adjust your account.

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Do I have to pay the costs?

The costs applied when the Summons was issued are now part of your Council Tax account and must be paid. They are not negotiable. If you pay the the amount within the Summons less the £82 costs we will proceed with our application for a Liabiltity Order against you.

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What happens now?

Unless you are pay the outstanding balance before the Court Hearing date including the Summons costs of £82.00, we will proceed with application for a Liability Order against you.This will involve a further £12.00 costs being added to your account.We can make a payment arrangement with you at this stage but this will be subject to the completion and return of a financial questionnaire which will be sent to you after the hearing.

If you make an arrangement to pay but do not return the financial questionnaire within 14 days after its issue the Council will continue with Recovery action even if you have made further payments since the Summons was issued.

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Date of last review: 05 July 2016

Attachment of Earnings Order - Relevant Regulations and Guidance for Employers

Guidance notes to assist employers with the administration of a Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Order can be found below.

These guidance notes also contain an extract of the regulations relevant to the Order.
Date of last review: 18 November 2016