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Generic Tax Name Tax on real estate - Council tax
Tax name in the national language Council tax
Tax name in English Council tax
Member State UK-United Kingdom
Tax in force since 1993/04/01
If abolished, date on which the tax ceases to apply
Business version date 2015/01/01
Version date 2015/02/17
This file was last updated on

Type of tax
Direct taxes Personal income tax
Corporate income tax

Indirect taxes VAT
Excise duty (EU harmonised)
Alcoholic beverages
Energy products and electricity
Manufactured tobacco

Social security contribution Employers
Legal base

Local Government and Finance Act 1992.

Who sets
The tax rate is set by

The tax base is set by

The reliefs are set by



Geographical Scope

Scotland and Wales have separate but similar council tax systems. The Scottish Executive is responsible for council tax in Scotland and the Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for council tax in Wales. The system in Northern Ireland is based on domestic rates, rather than council tax and is the responsibilitty of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


One council tax bill is payable for each dwelling. The person liable to pay the bill is usually the owner‑occupier(s) or tenant(s).

Tax object and basis of assessment

The council tax is set annually by each billing (levying in Scotland) authority (district councils, London boroughs, the Common Council of the City of London, the Council of the Isles of Scilly, regional and islands councils) based on their budget requirements. Each dwelling has been valued and placed in one of eight "valuation bands" (nine in Wales), and these determine the amount of tax to be paid in respect of each dwelling. Generally, the lower the valuation band in which a dwelling is placed, the lower the tax to be paid.

Deductions, Allowances, Credits, Exemptions


Some dwellings are exempt from council tax. These include dwellings which:

  • are wholly occupied by full-time students;
  • are wholly occupied by severely mentally impaired people;
  • are owned by people in detention;
  • are owned by people who have moved to provide or receive personal care;
  • are forbidden by law to be occupied;
  • are dwellings awaiting occupation by ministers of religion;
  • have been repossessed by a mortgage lender;

Note: when granting an exemption the billing authority must be satisfied that the requirements of the legislation, as they see it, have been met.

Rate(s) Structure

The rate of council tax is set annually by local authorities, although local electorates have a power to approve or veto excessive increases in a referendum. An excessive increase is defined by threshold levels ('principles') which are proposed annually by the Secretary of State and subject to approval by the House of Commons.

Tax due date

Tax collector

The council tax is collected by billing authorities. Taxpayers have the right to pay in 10 or 12 monthly instalments.

Special features


A full council tax bill assumes that two adults live in a property. If only one adult lives there (as a main home), the bill is reduced by 25 %; if it is no one's main home (e.g. empty or a second home), there may be a discount depending on the particular circumstances.

Some people are not counted when considering the number of adults resident in a dwelling. These include:

  • qualifying students, student nurses, apprentices and youth training trainees;
  • patients resident in hospital;
  • patients in homes;
  • the severely mentally impaired;
  • persons in detention;
  • members of international HQs and defence organisations;
  • carer

Note: when granting a relief the billing authority must be satisfied that the requirements of the legislation, as they see it, have been met.


Bills may also be reduced where the property has certain features to help meet the needs of a resident disabled person.

Economic function

Environmental taxes

Tax revenue
ESA95 code d59ad

Annual tax revenue (millions)
Tax revenue as % of GDP
Tax revenue as % of total tax revenue
2012 26,037.00 GBP 1.56
2011 25,748.00 GBP 1.59
2010 25,454.00 GBP 1.64
2009 24,940.00 GBP 1.68
2008 24,274.00 GBP 1.60
2007 23,224.00 GBP 1.56
2006 22,064.00 GBP 1.57
2005 20,931.00 GBP 1.57
2004 19,766.00 GBP 1.57
2003 18,377.00 GBP 1.54
2002 16,451.00 GBP 1.47
2001 15,128.00 GBP 1.42
2000 13,998.00 GBP 1.36