Council Tax liability can be a confusing issue however there are a few simple consideration which can ensure that your Council Tax liability is correctly determined and you are not caught out with a large, backdated, Council Tax demand.
What is Council Tax liability ?
Liability is simply the term used to describe being responsible for the Council Tax bill on a property – there may or may not be an actual charge for you to pay. More than one person may be liable for a Council Tax charge at any one time although not everyone in the house is always jointly responsible for the Council Tax.
How is Council Tax liability determined and can it be joint ?
Council Tax liability is determined, primarily, under Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This sets out, in law, who is responsible for making any payments and is responsible for the Council Tax account for the property. The Local Authority have no discretion over following and applying this legislation.
In most cases the resident tenants or owners are jointly responsible (including partners in some cases) for the Council Tax charge. A person in receipt of Council Tax support may also be jointly liable for the Council Tax charge. Special rules do apply in some specific cases – for example Houses in Multiple Occupation.
Remember that the liable party will be the person(s) who is chased for any Council Tax payments which are due and each jointly liable party is equally responsible for ensuring full payment is made.
It is important to ensure that those parties who are resident in a property but are not liable for the council tax charge are not made liable in error. The council should be kept updated on the status of the occupiers to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Does being disregarded remove me from Council Tax liability ?
No. Council Tax liability is determined solely by Council Tax legislation and Council Tax liability, in most cases, does not take in to account whether or not you are disregarded for the purposes of the calculation of the Council Tax charge.
Can a council change Council Tax liability ?
Council Tax liability is determined solely by Council Tax legislation and any decision must be made with reference to this. A council has no legal powers to alter or vary from the liability determined in legislation. In real terms however they will make a decision based on the facts as they see them. If they decide that the facts don’t support a particular situation then they will likely refuse to alter their decision, and it may require a Valuation Tribunal.
Can a landlord determine Council Tax liability ?
No. Council Tax liability is determined solely by Council Tax legislation and based on the type of tenancy agreement. Any terms which try to alter who is liable for Council Tax payment are not generally enforceable under Council Tax legislation (although may be via a Civil Court case between you and the landlord).
Can a landlord be responsible for a tenant’s Council Tax liability ?
No. As the Council Tax liability on a property is determined solely by Council Tax legislation and based on the type of tenancy agreement then a landlord cannot be held responsible for any Council Tax charge which should be in a tenant’s name.
Can an agreement with a flatmate determine Council Tax liability ?
No. Council Tax liability is determined solely by Council Tax legislation and based on the type of tenancy agreement. Any terms which try to split or determine amongst yourselves who is going to pay the Council Tax is not enforceable in Council Tax legislation (although may be enforceable via a Civil Court case between you and the flatmate).
I’ve left a property, what happens to my Council Tax ?
If you’ve vacated a property then special attention should be paid to the recent clarification of liability in the Appeals Court Case of Leeds CC v Broadley. Just because you’ve vacated does not mean that you cease being liable for the Council Tax payments nor does simply holding a tenancy mean you do remain liable after vacation.
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This website is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax specialists , 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.