Council tax frequently asked questions
Bands and charges
How is my council tax charge calculated?
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 worked out, 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.
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.
Why has my council tax bill increased?
It was agreed at a council meeting on 28 February 2023 to increase council tax levels by 7% from 1 April 2023. There is also an increase to the annual water and waste water charges. Find out more about 2023/24 charges.
Council tax can also increase for certain properties that have been empty for 12 months or more. Find out more about empty property reductions and premiums.
When will I receive my new council tax bill?
The council budget for 2023/24 was set on 28 February 2023, which will included the setting of Council Tax charges for the forthcoming financial year.
All households will receive their annual bill before 1 April detailing their new charges. This will include any increase to water and waste water charges set by Scottish Water.
Throughout the year, if there is any change to your council tax charge, a revised bill will be sent to you.
You can register for eBilling to receive your bill by email.
What to do if you disagree with your council tax charge
If your council tax band is correct, but you disagree with how your council tax charge has been calculated, find out what to do.
Can I appeal against my property band?
Your property band was set by the Assessor for Lothian Valuation Joint Board. All appeals or objections about banding should be directed to the Assessor. Find out more.
Will my council tax valuation band be increased if I build an extension onto my house?
Under current legislation any alterations or extensions that you carry out will not affect the council tax valuation band until the property is sold.
What does my council tax pay for?
The money collected from council tax helps to pay for a wide range of local services. Find out more.
Paying council tax
Who is responsible for paying the council tax bill?
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.
How do I know how much council tax I have to pay?
A council tax bill will be issued to all households on an annual basis at the beginning of March. If there is any change to your council tax charge at any other time of year, a revised bill will be issued to you.
How do I pay?
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.
I pay my council tax by direct debit, but the date payments are to be collected is not convenient. Can the date be changed?
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.
How do I claim a refund for overpaid council tax?
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.
Help if you're struggling to pay or in arrears
What happens if I don't pay my council tax?
Information about the steps we take to recover unpaid council tax can be found here.
We would urge you to get in touch with our council tax team if you are struggling to pay or need advice. Our Officers will work with you to make sure you get any help you need
What should I do if I am having trouble paying my council tax?
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.
I've received a reminder notice / final notice / summary warrant notice
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, what we refer to as ‘debt recovery action’ will be taken to recover monies owed. Details of our debt recovery process can be found here.
If you are struggling to pay, or need any help or advice, please contact our team straight away and we’ll do what we can to help.
Cost of living support
I'm struggling with cost of living increases, what help is available?
A range of measures are available to help people boost their income and both the UK Government and Scottish Government are providing additional financial support to help people with the cost of living increases, targeted particularly to those with the greatest need. However, it may not always be easy to know what support is available or how to apply and as a result, lots of benefits and other forms of financial support go unclaimed.
If money is tight or if you’re worried about your finances, get some advice. Don’t assume you’re receiving everything you’re entitled to, always check, and if you’re still struggling or in doubt, get in touch.
You can get an estimate of what you’re entitled to via our online benefits calculator. You can also find out more about the support available in our Helping with the cost of living crisis leaflet.
Reducing your council tax
Am I entitled to a reduction in my council tax bill?
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. - find out more about the scheme, including an online application form - if you need advice contact our financial support team on 01620 827730 or email email@example.com
- 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 (ie. 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.
I am receiving a reduction that I am no longer entitled to, what should I do?
You should contact the council tax team straight away to let them know of any change in your circumstances
Do I need to tell the council if I move home?
Yes, 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.
I paid my council tax by direct debit at my old address. Why has nothing come off my bank account since I moved to my new house?
When you tell us that you’re moving home, you need to include details of how you wish to pay council tax at your 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.
What should I do with council tax bills for the person who stayed here before me?
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.
Can I access my council tax account online?
Yes, you can register for self service. Self service allows you to view payments, bills, advise us of any changes, and set up or change a direct debit.
You can also switch to eBills so that you receive your council tax bill by email instead of paper.