Reduce my Council Tax
There are a number of ways you may be able to reduce the amount of Council Tax you pay: Discounts, exemptions, reductions for people with disabilities and benefits. Discounts may be available depending on who lives in the property.
Single Person Discount
The full Council Tax bill is based on 2 adults living in a home, if only 1 adult lives in the property as their main home we will reduce the Council Tax bill by 25%.
If you are the sole occupier over the age of 18 complete the single discount form and return it to the address shown on the form to receive 25% discount Single person discount application form.
If a property is no-one’s main home and unfurnished there is no charge for 1 month from the date the property became vacant. Following the 1 month period Council Tax will be charged at 100%.
Please note that the 1 month exempt period relates to the property and not individual owners.
Long Term Empty Properties
In accordance with the Government plans to try and bring empty properties back into use, any property that has been empty continuously for 2 years or more will be charged a premium of 50% in addition to the full annual charge.
The discount for second homes is 5%. This means that those liable for Council Tax on second homes pay 95% of the full charge. Second homes are defined as no-one's main home but remain furnished. Exceptions may apply to job-related dwellings.
Council Tax reduction for Annexes occupied as part of the main home or by a relative
With effect from 1st April 2014, the Government introduced a National Council Tax Discount for Annexes. For Council Tax purposes, an annexe is defined as a dwelling which forms part of a single property and includes at least one other dwelling.
The 50% discount is based on the ‘use’ of the dwelling by the resident of the main home or occupation by a member of their family. As such, the discount will apply to all Annexes used by the occupiers of the main building or by their immediate family members.
For this purpose family members are defined as:
A spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece (including further generations of each e.g. great grandparent, great-great grandchild, etc.).
In addition, please note:
1. Those eligible will also include relatives by marriage or civil partnership
2. Two people living together as if they were married or in a civil partnership will be treated as though the couple were married or in a civil partnership
3. The stepchild of a person shall be treated as his/her child
The new ‘family’ Annexe discount will be granted in addition to any existing discount or reduction which already applies to normal dwellings, ie. Single person discount, disabled reduction, etc.,
You will be asked to confirm the date from which you are using the Annex as part of your home and details of the relatives relationship with you, their name and date of occupation. You must also advise whether there is any other address they live at and, if so, why you consider your Annex to be their main home.
Please note that the discount cannot be granted prior to 1st April 2014 and that the council will give consideration to any requests to backdate the discount to this date, provided that adequate proof is supplied to confirm the conditions have been met and from when.
Where a non-family member occupies an Annexe, they will be held liable for the Council Tax.
If a property is vacant and unable to be used due to it being built or uninhabitable due to structural or major repair then a 50% discount will be awarded whilst the work is being undertaken up to a maximum of 1 year, when the full Council Tax will again become payable.
Counting the Number of Adults
A discount will be awarded if the number of people counted for Council Tax falls below 2. If only 1 person is counted then a 25% discount will be awarded and a 50% discount if no adults are counted (in some circumstances the whole charge may be exempted).
We do not count some people when we look at the number of adults residing in a property for Council Tax purposes see list below. However if the number of persons being counted for Council Tax purposes remain at 2 or above despite some members of the household not being counted the charge will remain payable in full.
- Full-time students (including student nurses, apprentices and youth trainees)
- People who live in hospital
- People who live in care homes
- People who are severely mentally disabled
- 18 and 19 year olds who are at, or have just left school
- Some care workers
- People who care for someone with a disability who is not their husband, wife, partner or child under 18 years
- Members of visiting forces
- Members of religious communities such as nuns
- People in prison (unless they are in prison for not paying their Council Tax or a fine)
If you wish to claim for a discount or require further information contact the council tax office.
There are times when a property may be exempt from Council Tax. This means that for the time the property is exempt, council tax will not be charged. Some types of property are exempt for a set time, but others stay exempt until the circumstances change.
The types of exempt property are:
View: Property Exemptions
- A Deleted by Government Legislation week of 01/04/2013
- B Empty properties owned by charities (exempt for up to 6 months)
- C Deleted by Government legislation week of 01/04/2013
- D Properties that are left empty by people held in prison
- E Properties that are left empty by people living in a hospital or care home
- F Properties that are left empty because the people who have lived there have died
- G Properties that no-one is allowed to live in by-law
- H Empty properties that are kept available for a minister of religion to perform his duties
- I Properties that are empty because the people who live there are staying somewhere else to be cared for
- J Properties that are empty because the people who live there are staying somewhere else to care for another person
- K Properties that are left empty by students
- L Empty properties that have been repossessed
- M Students’ homes that are owned or managed by a school or college
- N Homes that are lived in only by students
- O Military homes
- P Properties that are lived in by members of visiting forces
- Q Properties that are left empty by bankrupt people
- R Caravan pitches or boat moorings that are not being used
- S Properties that are lived in only by people who are under 18
- T An empty building or property in the grounds of another home
- U Properties that are lived in only by people who are severely mentally disabled
- V A diplomat’s home
- W A ‘granny flat’ lived in by a dependent relative of a person who lives in the main home
If you wish to claim for an exemption or require further information contact the council tax office.
Reductions for people with disabilities
You may be able to get a reduction in your Council Tax bill if you, or someone who lives with you, has a disability and needs:
- An extra room
- An extra bathroom or kitchen
- Extra space to use a wheelchair
Your bill is reduced to the amount for a property in the band immediately below the band it is in now. For example, if your property is in band C your bill is reduced to that for a property in band B. Properties in band A are eligible to a reduction equivalent to one valuation band.
If you wish to claim for a disabled reduction or require further information contact the council tax office.
Benefits: help with Council Tax
Council Tax benefit was abolished on 1 April 2013 in line with National Welfare Reforms, and all local Councils had to replace it with their own locally run service, which is known as the Local Council Tax Support Scheme. To view: Local Council Tax Support (LCTS)
If you think you may qualify for benefit you should apply at once as we cannot usually backdate your claim.
For enquiries relating to benefits and an application form click here: Contact the Benefits team
Discretionary Council Tax and Business Rates Discounts Policy
Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended, empowers a billing authority to reduce the amount of Council Tax due as it thinks fit. Furthermore, Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, as amended, empowers a billing authority to reduce the Business Rates due as it thinks fit.
If you wish to make a claim for discretionary reduction in your Council Tax or Business Rates and require further information please click on the link inside the box below.
If you are already receiving Council Tax Support, you are reminded that it is most important to notify changes that may affect your benefit entitlement to both this Council and where appropriate the Department for Work and Pensions.
You can either notify the benefits division in person at the Civic Offices or write to them at PO Box 5455, Benefits Division, Epping CM16 4DS