Understanding your Council Tax bill

1. Bands and charges

It was agreed at a Council meeting on 20 February 2024 that Council Tax levels would remain unchanged for financial year 2024/24. There is however an 8.8% increase to water and waste water charges set by Scottish Water. Find out more about 2024/25 charges.

The money collected from Council Tax helps to pay for a wide range of local servicesFind out more.

All households will receive their annual bill before 1 April detailing their new charges for the forthcoming financial year. Throughout the year, if there is any change to your Council Tax charge, a revised bill will be sent to you.  

The amount of Council Tax you pay depends on two things - the valuation band of your property and the number of adults living there.  When your Council Tax charge is calculated, it is assumed there are two adults living in the property.  More than two people does not increase the charge, but a single adult in residence qualifies for a 25% discount.  You must tell us when a young person in your household turns 18 as this may affect your bill.  If a young person turning 18 is a full-time student, you can apply for a student reduction.  Your Council Tax bill includes charges for your water supply and waste water collection services from Scottish Water.  Although we collect these charges on behalf of Scottish Water, we are not responsible for setting these charges.

All appeals or objections about banding should be directed to the Assessor for Lothian Valuation Joint Board, who is responsible for setting all property bands.

Get in touch with the Council Tax team if your Council Tax band is correct, but you disagree with how your Council Tax charge has been calculated. 

Under current legislation, any alterations or extensions that you carry out to your property will not affect the Council Tax valuation band until the property is sold.


2. Paying Council Tax

You will usually have to pay Council Tax if you're 18 or over and own or rent a home.  If you rent, check your rental agreement to see who is responsible for Council Tax payments. If you’re unsure, get in touch with the Council Tax team for advice.

Direct Debit is our preferred payment method.  You can find out how to set up a Direct Debit, or more information about other payment methods here.  If you pay by Direct Debit, you can pay on the 5th, 16th or last day of each month.  If these dates are not suitable, another payment method may be better for you.  If you need advice, contact the Council Tax team.

If your Council Tax account is in credit, we will send you a credit bill and will enclose a refund form.  On receipt of the completed refund form, we can refund any overpaid Council Tax direct to your bank account.  You can complete an online refund form here.


3. Help if you're struggling to pay or in arrears

If you’re struggling to pay your Council Tax, or need advice, please get in touch with our Council Tax team straight away. We can talk through your situation and may be able to set up a repayment arrangement with you to spread out your payments over a longer period of time. You may also be entitled to some financial support, so we can make sure you get some advice about this too. 

If you have not paid your Council Tax on time, a notice will be issued to you requesting payment of the amount due. Any notice for unpaid Council Tax will tell you how much you need to pay and when you need to do this. If Council Tax remains unpaid, we will take further steps to recover money owed. If you're struggling to pay, or need any help or advice, please contact our team straight away and we’ll do what we can to help.


4. Reducing your Council Tax

There are many ways in which your bill can be reduced, for example:

  • you may be eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme if you are on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits. If you need advice contact our Financial Support team on 01620 827730 or email financialsupport@eastlothian.gov.uk
  • you may qualify for a 25% reduction in your bill if you live alone or are the only adult in the household
  • you may be eligible for a disabled banding reduction if a member of your household is permanently disabled and uses a wheelchair inside
  • some people are not included (i.e. disregarded) when counting adults such as students, apprentices, carers or those who have a severe mental impairment etc.

Find out more about the various reductions available or contact the Council Tax team for advice.

If you are claiming a reduction and your circumstances change, you should contact the Council Tax team straight away.


5. Moving home

When you move to a new address you must notify the Council within 21 days. You can do so by competing an online form. You can notify us in advance if you have all of the information relating to the new address.

If you paid by Direct Debit at your old address and wish to do so at your new address, you need to tell us that so we can arrange for your Direct Debit to be switched over as you will have a new Council Tax account number. If you did not tell us that you wished to pay by Direct Debit when moving home, you will need to complete a new Direct Debit Instruction. If you’re not sure, just contact our team for help.

If you receive a Council Tax bill for the person who lived at the property before you, please return the bill to the address shown on the envelope and if a forwarding address or Solicitor's address is known for the previous occupant, please tell the Council Tax team and we can update our records.


6. eServices

You can register for self service to view payments, bills, advise us of any changes, and set up or change a Direct Debit.

You can switch to eBills so that you receive your Council Tax bill by email instead of paper.