Council Tax discounts can be a confusing matter, the 25% ‘single person discount’ being no less so than other discounts.
What is a ‘single person discount’ ?
It should be noted that discount is not referred to in legislation as a ‘single person discount’ however the common usage is used in the article.
Council Tax legislation allows for a discount of a prescribed percentage, currently 25%, to be applied to a property where there is only one adult occupier who is ‘resident’ in that property or there is only one ‘resident’ adult who is counted for Council Tax purposes. An adult may be ‘disregarded’ which means they are not taken in to account when the calculation of Council Tax is made.
Section 11 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 states that
The amount of council tax payable in respect of any chargeable dwelling and any day shall be subject to a discount equal to the appropriate percentage of that amount if on that day—
(a)there is only one resident of the dwelling and he does not fall to be disregarded for the purposes of discount; or
(b)there are two or more residents of the dwelling and each of them except one falls to be disregarded for those purposes.
“the appropriate percentage” means 25 per cent. or, if the Secretary of State by order so provides in relation to the financial year in which the day falls, such other percentage as is specified in the order.
What is Sole or Main Residence ?
In order to be ‘resident’ for Council Tax purposes a person must have their ‘sole or main residence’ within that property. ‘Sole or main residence’ is not specifically defined in legislation however case-law has determined that a good indication of a person’s ‘sole or main residence’ would be to consider where an independent, outside observer, would say a person was living when presented with the information at hand.
In the case of a couple they would usually share the same ‘sole or main residence’ however this is not an automatic presumption and must be based on the specific facts of their case. A couple who live apart may retain the same ‘sole or main residence’ for Council Tax purposes or they may have separate ‘sole or main residences’.
In the case of a temporary residence, for example working away Monday to Friday, the person would be ordinarily regarded as being resident at their normal home rather than at the place where they are living during the week. This is because they have an ‘intention to return’ to their normal home and it remains their ‘sole or main residence’.
What if other adults are ‘disregarded’ ?
In some cases you may be able to keep a 25% discount whilst other adults are resident in the property. This depends on whether the other adults can qualify to be ‘disregarded’ for Council Tax purposes.
To be ‘disregarded’ whilst they are resident in the property an adult must meet certain criteria – for example being classed as a full-time student or a carer. If all but one resident adult is disregarded then a 25% discount can continue to apply at a property.
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This article is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax 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.