Council Tax Bill Explanatory Notes

These notes form part of your Council Tax bill

Online services

As a Buckinghamshire Council resident you can continue to access online council tax information and forms using the website pages relevant for your area by visiting www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk. You can tell us about changes that will affect your council tax online (such as applying for or cancelling a discount, setting up a direct debit, making a payment or telling us that you have moved address). It’s easy and will ensure that your account is quickly updated. If your circumstances change, or if you want to apply for a relief or discount, or if you are changing address you can do this online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk

Council Tax Reduction (CTR)

If you and your partner are unemployed or on a low income, you may be able to get help to pay your council tax bill. It is calculated based on your personal and financial circumstances. You can apply online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/council-tax-reduction-scheme

If you have been awarded CTR it will be shown on your bill. If you think there is a mistake with the amount of CTR you are receiving you may request a revision of the decision. The Council will then check its initial calculation and let you know the outcome. If you still do not think this is correct you can request a written statement. This must be done in writing/email within one calendar month from the date of the bill.

If you are still unhappy you must contact Buckinghamshire Council, Benefit Team giving the reason/s why you disagree. Your reasons will be considered and responded to within two months. If the original decision is not changed you may appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Services.

You have a duty to notify Buckinghamshire Council, Benefit Team, as soon as your circumstances change. This could be if your income changes or if somebody moves in or out of your home. Most changes are effective from the Monday following the date of change providing Buckinghamshire Council has been notified within 1 calendar month. Notifications outside of this time will be effective from the Monday following the date you told us of the change.

If your bill indicates that a reduction has been allowed, you must tell the Benefit Team of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement. If you fail to do so you may be required to pay a £70 penalty and/or be subject to prosecution. See “Tell us if your circumstances change” overleaf.

If you do not tell the Benefit Team about a change in your circumstances, or if you knowingly give false information, you may receive too much CTR and will have to pay it back. This may result in action being taken against you, which can include court action.

Council tax valuation bands and appeals

Each property has a valuation band which is shown on your bill The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) values domestic properties for council tax based on the value of your home on 1st April 1991 as follows:

Valuation Band        Range of Values (£)

         A                 Up to & 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                       Over 320,000

Appeals against your valuation band

This valuation is used to set your council tax band. You might need to contact the VOA if you think your council tax band is wrong. You can find out more about when you can challenge your band and what you need to do at gov.uk/challenge-council-tax-band. If you challenge your band, you must continue to pay council tax at your current band until your appeal is decided. Please note this is a free service and there is no need to employ a company to appeal on your behalf, unless you want to.

You can contact the VOA at gov.uk/contact-voa. If you are unable to use the online service you can also contact the VOA on 03000 501 501

If you don’t think you are liable to pay council tax

If you believe you are not the person who should be paying council tax, or that your dwelling should not be charged council tax you must let the Council know why. Contact details are on your bill. However this does not allow you to withhold payment of tax owing in the meantime. You will be notified in writing if your appeal is successful. If you are unhappy with the Council’s decision you may then appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

What happens if you don’t pay

Your council tax bill tells you when your monthly payments should be received by the Council. If you have difficulty in paying, contact the council straight away so we can help you as much as we can. If you do not contact the Council recovery action may follow.

This is what happens when payments are not received:

  • A reminder will be sent.
  • If you pay on receipt of your first reminder, but pay late on another occasion, you will be sent a final notice for the outstanding balance for the whole year. If this happens you will only be able to pay by instalments if you make an arrangement with the Council to bring your account up to date and set up a direct debit. If you pay late on your arrangement you will be sent a summons to appear before the Magistrates’ Court for the outstanding balance for the year. You may also incur additional costs.

Empty & unfurnished properties

Unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings will receive a one month discount of 100% and those undergoing structural repair will receive 50% discount for up to a maximum of twelve months from the date works start. In both cases, once the period of discount has expired, full council tax will be payable. Once the property becomes furnished or habitable you must notify the authority immediately. If the property is sold or a tenant moves in or out there is no entitlement to a further discount. Apply online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/council-tax. Properties that are empty for between 2 and 5 years will be charged an empty home premium of 100% on top of the full council tax from 1st April 2020 (equivalent to 2 x Council Tax). Properties that are empty between 5 years and 10 years will be charged a premium of 200% (equivalent to 3 x Council Tax). Properties that are empty for more than 10 years will be charged a premium of 300% (equivalent to 4 x Council Tax) with effect from 1st April 2021.

Discounts and exemptions

There are various council discounts and exemptions which you can apply for online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/council-tax. These include: 25% single person discounts; disregards (adults not counted for council tax purposes); exemptions such as properties occupied only by full-time students; members of a visiting force; diplomats and members of international organisations; people under 18; people who are severely mentally impaired; ‘granny annexes’ occupied by elderly or disabled family members; and certain vacant dwellings. Full details are given on the website.

If your bill shows a discount which you are no longer entitled to because your circumstances have changed, you must tell the council tax department. If you fail to do so you may be required to pay a £70 penalty and/or be subject to prosecution.

People with disabilities

If someone in your home is disabled and either uses a wheelchair indoors or has the total main use of a room because of this disability, you may be entitled to a reduction in your bill. This does not apply if the room is your only kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Apply online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/council-tax

Reduction or remission of council tax

The Council also has discretionary power to reduce or remit the amount of council tax payable. The Council will determine under which circumstances a reduction in council tax will be appropriate. If you wish to apply for a discretionary reduction you should apply in writing setting out the reasons why you think your council tax should be reduced.

Instalments

Council tax is a daily charge (your annual bill divided by 365 days or 366 for a leap year) and is usually paid in 10 instalments from April to January. New rules introduced by the Government allow customers to pay in 12 instalments if they wish. Requests must be made in writing to the council tax department by 1st April.

Financial information

Financial information, including details of the Council’s income and spending can be found on the Council’s website at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk as well as information relating to spending by large town and parish councils. Hard copies of this information will be issued free of charge on request.

Information relating to the finances of:

Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority can be found at www.bucksfire.gov.uk

Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley Area can be found at www.thamesvalley-pcc.gov.uk

The Environment Agency can be found at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Adult social care charges

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made an offer to adult social care authorities. (“Adult social care authorities” are local authorities which have functions under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014, namely county councils in England, district councils for an area in England for which there is no county council, London borough councils, the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.)

The offer is the option of an adult social care authority being able to charge an additional “precept” on its council tax without holding a referendum, to assist the authority in meeting expenditure on adult social care from the financial year 2016-17 onwards. This is subject to the annual approval of the House of Commons.

More details can be found at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk.

Tell us if your circumstances change

If you are receiving a discount, exemption or council tax reduction, you must notify the Council if you should not get this anymore because your circumstances have changed. You can do this online at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/section/council-tax. For example, if you receive a single person discount, but another adult has moved into your property, or if you receive council tax reduction because you are on a low income and you have a new job with more income.

If your circumstances have changed and you do not tell the Council straight away, or if you give false information to try to get relief or discount that you are not entitled to the Council may issue a £70 penalty.

If you have had a penalty charged against you and are asked again for the same information the Council may charge a further penalty of £280.