Council Tax and a partner’s liability

By | October 27, 2016

Council Tax partnerIt is not unusual for partners to live together in a property where only one of them is the actual legal owner or tenant. In these cases legislation will determine how and when the partner is jointly liable for the Council Tax charge.

We shall consider, as an example, a case where Mr Smith is the resident owner and Mrs Jones is the resident partner.

What is a partner ?

The Local Government Finance Act 1992 uses the terms of ‘civil partner’ and ‘married to’ – we will use the term partner here as a catch-all term.

The definition of married to is given as;

For the purposes of this section two persons are married to each other if they are a man and a woman—
(a)who are married to each other; or
(b)who are not married to each other but are living together as husband and wife.

The definition of civil partner is given as;

For the purposes of this section two persons are civil partners of each other if they are of the same sex and either—
(a)they are civil partners of each other; or
(b)they are not civil partners of each other but are living together as if they were civil partners.

If you are living to together as though you were married or civil partners then can be regarded as such for Council Tax purposes – Gardiner v Swindon Borough Council was a High Court case where the definition of husband & wife was discussed.

Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992

Council Tax liability is initially determined with reference only to Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.  It is this which will determine who is liable in respect of Council Tax legislation – most commonly this will be either the resident owner or the resident tenant.

Mr Smith is the resident owner and therefore under this section he would be solely liable for the Council Tax charge (see below however).

Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992

In addition to the liability created under Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (see above) a further consideration as to the liability of a partner has to be made. This is made under Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This section applies to a partner (unmarried, married, civil partner etc) who is resident in the property.

Mrs Jones is the resident partner and so is found to be jointly liable for the Council Tax whilst she remains resident.

If the partner is a student or severely mentally impaired (SMI)

A final consideration which must be made is whether Mrs Jones is a full-time student or is severely mentally impaired (SMI) for Council Tax purposes. A specific exclusion in Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 allows for a partner (unmarried, married, civil partner etc) to not be held jointly liable where:

They are being held jointly liable only as a partner (unmarried, married, civil partner etc) under Section 9
and
They are a full-time student or severely mentally impaired (SMI) for Council Tax purposes

If Mrs Jones was a full time student or SMI then she would cease to be regarded as jointly liable. Whether Mr Smith is a full-time student or SMI is immaterial in this decision and he remains liable regardless. The only difference is whether Mrs Jones is also jointly liable or not.

What if I call my partner a lodger, guest etc

Regardless of what you term you use to describe your partner the specific terms of Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 will, where the partner is resident in the property, make them jointly liable (subject to the exclusions outlined above ) for Council Tax purposes. Gardiner v Swindon Borough Council was a High Court case where the ‘Housekeeper’ was found to be a partner for Council Tax purposes and fell jointly liable under Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Assistance from LGFA92

Good quality help with your Council Tax help dispute can be hard to come across – there’s a lack of independent, expert, places where you can get the help you need however LGFA92 are here to change that. For further, written, assistance on this matter we’d be happy to provide a quote.

Contact us today. Email us at info@lgfa92.co.uk, Call us on 0191 6451118.

This article is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax agents and experts, based on our interpretation of legislation. Your local authority is free to dispute this view. A binding decision may require the intervention of a valuation tribunal.

 

 

 

 

 

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