How to claim back Council Tax overpayments & check you’re paying correct amount

Dementia: Pensioner fumes over council tax changes

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Thousands of people have been in touch with their local authority to demand a refund after discovering that they have been paying too much council tax. Following a warning to homeowners and tenants in July, Britons struggling to pay their bills have been contacting their local authority to check whether their council tax band can be reduced. 

Most people just accept their council tax band when they move into a new property, but challenging it successfully could mean a refund of hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds.

And that’s what many people have been doing thanks to encouragement from experts like Martin Lewis who helped one UK resident called Shaun claim back £7,625 after being in the wrong council tax band for more than 28 years. 

According to industry experts, up to 400,000 people are thought to be in the wrong council tax band so Shaun’s story is unlikely to be a one off. 

To check a property, you can use the website, however for houses in Scotland try the Scottish Assessors Association.

Comparing the band to the price of a neighbour’s property will give people some indication as to whether the house is in the right council tax band in the first instance.

That said it’s important to go off what the property was worth in 199, when council tax was first introduced.

How can I lower my council tax bill?

If research finds that the band is correct and a challenge would be a waste of time, don’t despair there might be other ways to reduce how much council tax a household pays. 

People who live on their own are entitled to 25 percent off their annual bill and this also applies if one person is working and the other is a student. 

If a household is made up of two adults but one person is classed as severely mentally impaired, this is also grounds for a 25 percent reduction.

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Unemployed people are also eligible for a reduction and will be asked to make a contribution depending on individual circumstances.

Analysis by charity Turn2Us has highlighted that millions of individuals could be missing out on help they are entitled to.

Figures show that 2.77 million people are thought to be losing out to the tune of £2.6billion worth of help with paying their bills.

Broken down, it equates to a total of £938 that each Briton is estimated to be missing out on.

Residents could also be eligible for a reduction if they are on a low income or claiming benefits, so it’s important to contact the local council straight away to check.

A handy Council Tax Reduction tool has been developed by the Government to help people see whether they are eligible for further support. 

All claimants need to do is enter their postcode, to be redirected to the website of their local council.

They will then be able to see whether they are eligible for support, and how to receive it.

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode or visit InYourArea

Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs at Turn2Us, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has pushed millions of us into financially precarious positions.

“We expect to see an increasing number of people needing help with their council tax bills over the next few months.

“It is so important for people to get all the support they are entitled to. 

“In addition to Council Tax support, you may also be able to get other forms of financial information and help.”

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