How Council Tax for Students Works
As a student whether you’re living in shared accommodation or student halls, it can be pretty confusing when figuring out if you are exempt from paying council tax or not. If you are a full time student, you’re most likely going to be exempt from paying council tax. If you live in a mixed house, with some people who work full-time, your house will need to pay a proportion of the council tax bill relevant to those that aren’t exempt.
We did the research so you don’t have to, to help you figure out if you’re eligible for a council tax student discount, an exemption from council tax, or whether you need to budget and pay for council tax.
What is Council Tax?
You pay Council Tax to your local council for the services they provide to you.
Your council tax payments go towards funding things like schools, bin collections and street repairs to libraries, parks and leisure facilities. A proportion of this will also go towards our local police, fire and rescue services.
You can either pay your council tax on a monthly or annual basis, usually paid through your local council’s website.
How Is Council Tax Calculated?
Council Tax is calculated on a property based on two factors. Half is associated with the property itself. The other half reflects the occupants or owners of the property.
Your bill will usually show the names of the people the council believes are legally responsible to pay the bill. If these details are incorrect, give the council a quick call and keep them up to date on who lives with you.
Discounts can also be applied if someone lives on their own, and there are also discounts for those who aren’t viewed as ‘adults’ for council tax purposes (e.g. if you’re a student).
Are Students Exempt from Council Tax?
If you are a full time student in the UK, then you’ll be exempt from paying any council tax.
You classify as a full time student if, you guessed it, you’re enrolled in full time education at University. You’re a full time student if your course lasts either one academic year or one whole calendar year. You’re also a full time student if your course involves at least 21 hours of study, tuition, or work experience during one term.
Providing Proof of Student Status to the Council
It’s most likely your local council will ask you for proof of student status to secure your council tax exemption. You can get a council tax exemption form supplied by your university. Send this across to your local council following the contact details they provide you in your first bill. Once they process this, they’ll confirm your council tax exempt status.
What To Do If You’re Exempt, But You Still Receive A Council Tax Bill?
Sometimes even if you are exempt from paying council tax, you may still receive a council tax bill. First off, don’t ignore the bill. Your local council is often not aware of who lives at your property, and if you are actually exempt. If you don’t let them know your exemption status, you might even be liable to pay a portion of the bill! If you’re still unsure, your best bet is to ring or email your council to update them on your student and exemption status.
Special Conditions Relating to Council Tax Exemptions
Are You Council Tax Exempt If You’re A Postgraduate Student?
As a postgrad student, it can be a bit more difficult to prove that you are still technically a full time student. Especially if you aren’t on campus or if you aren’t required to attend lectures. If your local council does not grant you an exemption, you can always get advice from your student’s union, or your university accommodation office.
Do You Still Pay If You Take Time Off From Your Course?
If you are a full-time student and have to take time off from your course for unforeseen circumstances, as long as your course attendance has only been suspended, then you will still be classified as a student. This is because your stated intentions are to return to your studies, so you will still be viewed as a full time student. Therefore you are still exempt from paying council tax.
Do You Still Pay If You’re Between Courses?
You might have to pay council tax if you have finished one course and you are waiting to start another. This is if your course is taking place within another academic year. This can be confusing, so it is always worth double checking with your university accommodation office, and your local council.
Do You Need To Pay Council Tax If Someone You Live With Is Working Full Time?
This is where things can get a bit confusing. If you live with someone who is not a full-time student, your property will not be fully exempt from council tax. But don’t worry, your property might qualify for a discount.
If you live with one other person who is in full time employment, but you yourself are a student, your property will be eligible for a 25% discount.
If you live with 2 or more people who have a full time job and aren’t in education, then you would not qualify for any council tax discounts. In this case, if you yourself are the full time student, you won’t have to pay anything, the council will only ask for council tax payments from those who are employed.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Council Tax?
Even if you are exempt from paying council tax, it is always worth bearing in mind what will happen if you don’t pay your council tax. These things can also happen if you ignore the letters and don’t bother keeping the council up to date of your living situations.
It’s pretty serious if you ignore your council tax payments. If you miss your payment by two weeks, you’re going to receive reminders from your council. If you pay the outstanding bill within one week, then it will all be cleared.
However, if you’ve already been late with your council tax payments three other times, you’ll likely receive a ‘final notice’ letter from your council. This will usually state that you have to pay all your council tax for the year, within seven days. If you do not pay within the time given, the council are within their rights to call for the services of a private debt collection company or court order to recover any debts. If you’re really not complying with their requirements, it’s possible to receive a prison sentence from lack of council tax payments.
It goes without saying, it’s important that you sort your council tax out, and don’t swerve any payments.
More Advice on Surviving Uni
It’s always a stress figuring out what you need to pay for, and if you even need to pay anything at all when it comes to council tax. We hope this helped and you learned a bit more about how to navigate the all too grown up world of council tax.
If you’re looking for more advice on your accommodation at Uni, check out our Student Guide To Renting to learn the ins and outs of renting as a student, what to prepare for, and what to think about. For more advice on life at Uni visit our Student Advice Hub.