Council tax and rates

Updated on 20 April 2021

Other tax issues

Council tax is collected in England, Wales and Scotland (although there are some regional differences). In Northern Ireland, there is a rates system instead of council tax. Collection of the tax and rates is carried out by your local council.

Illustration of a house, pound coin and the word tax

What is council tax (or rates in Northern Ireland)?

Council tax is a primary ‘local tax’ which applies in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, the equivalent tax to council tax is called rates.

The money collected through these property taxes goes to local authorities (councils) to pay for local services such as maintaining parks, collecting rubbish, policing and personalised care.

These taxes apply to all properties, including mobile homes, caravans and boats whether they are rented or owned, which are used as the homes of individuals. These properties are described as domestic properties.

This tax is based upon the value of the properties concerned, rather than the income of the individuals who occupy them.

Council tax is calculated for the year from 1 April to 31 March and is adjusted appropriately when a change of circumstances affects the bill, such as the property becoming or ceasing to be eligible for an exemption or reduction. This means that you need to notify your council of changes affecting your liability.

Where can I find more information about council tax and rates?

Students can read our dedicated information for council tax and students.

You can find some basic information about council tax on GOV.UK, along with a further collection of information.

You can find specific Scottish information on the Scottish government website and Welsh information on the Welsh government website.

For rates in Northern Ireland, you can find out more on the NI Direct website.

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