Homeowners set for compensation after they overpaid council tax for 30 YEARS
ALMOST 80 households in one council are owed thousands back after overpaying on their council tax.
These overpayments often result from houses being in the wrong council tax band.
STV news was the first to report that 79 households in the East Lothian Council region are owed thousands back.
This resulted from a review conducted by the local valuation board which discovered that far too many properties were in the wrong council tax bands.
The investigation saw 127 homes moved up a band – meaning these households would have to pay more council tax.
However, 79 households moved down a council tax band and will subsequently pay less council tax.
Households who move up a band don’t need to pay any underpayments for being in the wrong band, but those moving down will get thousands back from the local authority.
For example, if someone living in East Lothian saw their property move from council tax band E to G they’d save £527 this financial year alone.
And if the property was in the wrong band for a period of five years and the tax difference between these two bands was roughly £500 a year – it would mean they’d be owed £2,500 back from the council.
Changing council tax bands is hard work but here’s how to go about it.
What is my council tax band?
Council tax bands are based on how much your property was worth on:
- 1 April 1991, for England and Scotland
- 1 April 2003, for Wales
Band A represents the lowest value of a home, while band H in England and Scotland and band I in Wales represents the highest value.
You can check your council tax band here by entering your postcode.
The problem is that when the council tax system was brought in, the Government didn’t have time to get detailed information about each home in the UK.
So the people it hired to do the valuations ended up allocating each property a band “with just a glance”, according to MoneySavingExpert.com.
This is why thousands of homes across the UK could be in the wrong council tax band, and paying the incorrect amount.
How much do I have to pay?
Council tax is set by local authorities with the cash from the levy being spent to fund the budget for the area.
For example, the money is used to organise bin collection and fund businesses like council run leisure centres.
Every year, the Government sets the thresholds for how much a local authority can increase its local rates by.
How much you have to pay depends on what council tax band your property is in and where you live.
To find out how much tax you have to pay, you’ll need to check your local council’s website.
How do you change council tax bands?
You might find that you’re already paying more for your council tax if you notice that your property may be in the wrong tax band.
According to MoneySavingExpert.com, as many as 400,000 homes are potentially in the wrong council tax band.
The first step is to check what council tax band your neighbours are on – you can then see if it matches your band. If there’s a discrepancy then your property may be in the wrong band.
But, you’ll need to make sure that it’s your band that’s incorrect as there’s always the chance that your neighbours is wrong.
Finally, you’ll also need to work out how much your property was worth in 1991, as this is when council tax was launched by the government.
MoneySavingExpert.com has a free calculator tool to help you do this, plus a table showing what band you should have been put in.
If you want to go ahead with a challenge, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.
Be aware, that there’s always the chance that you may get it wrong and could find your home moved up a council tax band – if this was to occur you’d end up having to pay more.
It’s important you’re absolutely sure about your case before you challenge it with the VOA.