HUNDREDS of thousands of households could be due refunds after paying too much for their council tax.
مارتن لويس‘ money saving expert has revealed the extent of the overpayments which mean you could be owed cash.
There are several reasons you could be owed a council tax refund.
على سبيل المثال, you might be eligible for a discount on the household bill, the band you’re in may have changed, or you might still be unknowingly paying the tax after you’ve left a previous property.
A previous investigation by The Sun found that local authorities dished out over £52million in refunds last year.
Read more on refunds
One household in St Alban’s was owed an eye-watering £27,150, which the council said was laying in a dormant council tax account.
Now MSE has found that 38 councils owe refunds of over £1million each, following freedom of information (FOI) requests of authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.
Gareth Shaw, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, قالت: “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.
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“Each council has its own way of processing claims, but some have an easy online form.
MSE recommends that you check your council tax statements and bills to see if you paid for your council tax upfront covering a certain period of time after moving house.
You’ll need to contact the council directly about a refund if you think you’re owed cash.
How you do that will vary, but some authorities have online forms, MSE says.
You can find your local council using the gov.uk tool, just pop in your postcode.
Remember if you’ve moved home then check your old address.
The reason you could be owed cash vary, so it’s worth a quick check of old paperwork, considering the amounts you could get back and the number of people affected.
Here’s other ways you could be owed council tax cash.
Wrong council tax band
You might be overpaying because you are in the wrong council tax band, على سبيل المثال.
Council tax bands are based on how much your property was worth on April 1, 1991 for England and Scotland, وأبريل 1, 2003 for Wales.
These bands determine how much you’ll pay in tax.
If you’re placed in a higher one than you should be, then you can check it and challenge it.
لفعل هذا, find out what band your neighbours are on based on houses similar in size and value.
This information is available online and it’s free to check – if you are in a higher band and want to make a challenge, contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.
If you’re moved to a lower band, you’ll get a refund of council tax going back to the date you moved into the property.
But be warned – the VOA might find that you are in a lower band than you should be. ان حدث هذا, you’ll end up paying more.
Reduced council tax bill
You might be eligible for a council tax reduction, and you might be able to get this backdated too.
على سبيل المثال, you can get 25% off if you live on your own, or if there is one adult and one student living in your home.
You could get 50% off if you live with “disregarded people” – which means someone who does not have to pay council tax.
A live-in carer and someone who is severely mentally impaired fall under this category.
If you live in an all-student household, or if you have a severe mental impairment and live alone or with a student, you can get 100% off your council tax.
زائد, you could be eligible for a full discount if you receive certain benefits.
You can check out نصيحة المواطنين for a full list on who qualifies.
Council tax bill relief
You can make an application for what is called “discretionary relief” for your council tax bill by filling out a Section 13A application.
This means councils can reduce or completely wipe off a council tax debt you might have.
A Sun investigation has found that councils have been wiping clean a record level of council tax debt in recent years over the Covid pandemic.
Nearly £2.7million worth of council tax debts was scrapped by local authorities over 2020/21.
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The single highest household debt cleared was made by Sheffield City Council, who tore up one family’s outstanding payments worth £3,210.34.
Once you’ve sent your Section 13A application over to your local authority, you should be told about a decision within 14 أيام.