How to claim a council tax refund with UK households owed more than £150 million in unpaid rebates

Households could be due a portion of £150 million in overpaid council tax, new research has revealed.

Consumers are being urged to check if they are due a refund as it has emereged 862,027 homes are eligible to receive money back, according to data from Money Saving Expert.

It found, through sending out Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to councils, that those in England, Scotland and Wales could claim a total of £150.2million back – equivalent to an average of £174.

There are a number of reasons why households may be able to get cash refunds from their council but usually it is because the householder has moved out of the area, but they had already paid the bill upfront.

In most cases council tax is paid in advance, including for those who pay monthly, and, if someone fails to close their account or doesn’t pay by direct debit, the council may struggle to refund automatically if they’ve moved.

This means the account will likely be closed in credit.

(Money Saving Expert)

Consumers are being warned that the easiest way to avoid overpaying council tax is to set up a direct debit with their local authority, so they can automatically process any refunds.

Those who think they might be able to claim cash back can call, email or live-chat their council with each one having its own process for reclaiming.

To find out how much consumers could be owed, Money Saving Expert submitted FOI requests to all 364 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

It found thirty four councils in England, three in Scotland and one in Wales each hold council tax overpayments worth over £1 million, with Birmingham council holding the most: almost £5.4 million.

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Regionally, it found those in London are owed the most with £40,010,855 in overpaid council tax.

This was followed by the South East and the North West, with sums of £27,400,196 and £12,859,065 outstanding respectively.

Gareth Shaw, deputy editor at Money Saving Expert, said: “While many councils do make an effort to track down those who have cash lying unclaimed, they are still staggeringly sitting on £150 million worth of overpayments.

“You’re less likely to have overpaid if you use direct debit, but it’s not impossible, so if you’ve moved home, it’s worth checking if you might be due – especially if you changed local authority area and paid by cash, cheque or standing order instead. Each council has its own way of processing claims, but some have an easy online form.

“Don’t just call on the off chance you might be due – do a little bit of digging so you don’t clog up councils’ switchboards for those who need essential and urgent support. Check your previous statements and bills to see if council tax you paid upfront covers a period after you moved and if you closed your account in credit.”

Households could claim millions back on overpaid council tax
(Money Saving Expert)

How to check and claim back council tax

Setting up a direct debit is one of the easiest ways households can help reduce their likelihood of overpaying on council tax. Paying this way also makes it easier to reclaim refunds if they are due.

This is because councils will have the bank account details on their systems – making it easier to automatically process refunds for overpayments.

However, households are reminded to cancel a council direct debit and close the account if they are moving to an area covered by a different local authority.

The best way for households to check if they’re due cash – and then reclaim it if so – will depend on their council. Local councils’ contact details can be found on

Some councils may also offer a simple online council tax refund form to complete – though those doing this will be asked to provide evidence of eligibility for any backdated claims.