Council Tax Overview
Council tax was introduced in April 1993 to replace the Community Charge (Poll Tax), and it’s the way you pay for the cost of having public services provided to you. Many of the services you use every day and may not give a second thought to are paid for in part by council tax contributions.
For example, some of the services your local authority provide for you and your family using your council tax contributions includes:
- Fire, police and court services
- Household water and waste (sewerage)
- Rubbish collection and disposal, including recycling and household waste disposal facilities
- Street lighting
- Registrations of births, marriages and deaths
- Administration of licences and permits
- Administration of benefits
- School and nursery facilities
- Housing, including council homes, and advice and support for older citizens
- Health and social care to the vulnerable
- Road and bridge maintenance
- Maintenance of parks and open spaces
- Funeral services
- Education and training support and grants
- Museums and community events
- Leisure facilities, such as swimming pools, recreation centres and athletics facilities
- Subsidising public transport
- Environmental health and safety
The amount of tax due for your household is set by the local authority. There are 32 local authorities in Scotland covering different geographical areas and all containing differing numbers of people, so the amount of council tax payable for each household differs in each local authority. The amount you pay may not be the same as a friend or family member who lives elsewhere in Scotland. However, council tax rates have been frozen in Scotland since 2007, and are forecast to remain frozen until 2017.
Your household’s bill is based on the circumstances of those who live in your property (personal component) and the value of the property you live in (property component) compared to others in the local area.
For the personal component, there are discounts, rebates and reductions that can be applied depending on your circumstances, particularly if you are on a low income, suffer from a disability, or if your property fits certain exemption/reduction criteria.
Before April 1st 2013, council tax benefit was the responsibility of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), with local authorities managing and overseeing the process for administering it.
If you qualified for council tax benefit before this date, you received your council tax bill with your benefit already having been deducted. After April 1st 2013, council tax benefit was ended and a new scheme – the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – took its place. If you are entitled to a reduction or discount you will now receive a bill showing a reduced council tax liability, rather than a deduction.
If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a reduction, have a look at some of the information here or give one of our advisors a call on 0141 255 2104 for a confidential chat.
For the property component, every property in Scotland falls into one of eight property valuation bands, and the amount of tax you pay will be based in part on which band your property falls into.
The valuation bands were set in 1991 and every property’s market value was initially estimated by an Assessor and put into one of these bands. Unless you have bought a property with significant material changes to it, such as an extension that adds another room and therefore increases its value, it should be in the same banding as it was back in 1991.
You can find out more about how your property is valued for banding here.
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Council tax can be complicated, especially if you have never had to pay it before. The information on the following pages explain how councils work out how much council tax you owe, what discounts and reductions you are entitled to, how to pay your bill and what to do if you cannot.
Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone in confidence, call 0141 255 2104 and one of our advisers will help