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On this page you will find the answers to our most frequently asked questions about council tax.
Council Tax is a domestic property tax collected by local councils. It helps to pay for local services such as schools, rubbish collection, roads and street lighting.
You can find out more on our council tax rates page.
Council tax is charged on most homes, and there is one bill per home. Each home is placed in a valuation band from A to H, based on the amount it would have sold for on 1 April 1991.
The Valuation Office Agency, not the council, gives a valuation band to every home. You may be able to appeal against the valuation bank in certain circumstances. For more information, please visit the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website or telephone 01772 501501.
By law, you must continue to pay your council tax until a decision has been reached on any valuation appeal.
If you sell your home or move from a rented property you need to tell us when this happens.
You can also notify us by completing the online change of address form
We will need to know the following:
You can use the online change of circumstances form to report a birth (if you claim housing benefit or council tax support) or a death.
You can pay your council tax in a variety of ways:
Direct debit is the simplest and safest way to make payments. It is also the best and cheapest way for us to collect your council tax. Please note, that you will need your council tax reference number and your bank details to set this up.
A full council tax bill is based on two or more adults living in a household.
In certain circumstances council tax bills can be reduced. If you think you may be eligible, please see details of what discounts, exemptions and reductions are available.
You will be set an additional amount of council tax (a 'premium') to be paid if your property has been empty for more than two years (unless it’s an annexe or you’re in the armed forces).
The long term empty property premium is set at 50%, meaning that once your property has been empty for more than two years, you will have to pay the whole council tax bill, plus half on top again.
These charges were introduced following new powers given to local authorities to set premiums from April 2013. In Preston, these charges are set in line with the council's objectives of maximising the accommodation available and reducing the number of long term empty properties in the city.
A dwelling may be eligible to receive a council tax discount of 50% if:
*Substantially unfurnished is defined as a property where sufficient furniture has been removed to leave the property incapable of occupation. As a minimum, beds, chairs, tables, wardrobes, cabinets, televisions and personal effects would be expected to be removed.
**Major repair work is classed as substantial and extensive repairs that are necessary to render the property habitable. Please note that refurbishment work such as refitting a kitchen or bathroom, installing central heating, replacement windows, rewiring or redecoration would not normally be defined as major repair work.
***Structural alteration is defined as new or replacement masonry walls, lintels, brick piers, floor and roof joists, trusses, purlins or staircases. (These examples are not exhaustive but are indicative of the type of work required.)
You may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax bill if you, or someone living with you, are on a low income. Unlike the discounts and exemptions, Council Tax Support is means tested (we check if your income and capital are below specified limits). See Council Tax Support for more information and to find out how to apply.
Failure to pay your council tax or regularly missing instalments will lead to recovery action being taken against you. For details of the recovery process and what options are available to the council if you fail to pay or fail to respond to communications, please see our Recovery Action page.
We collect all council tax in Preston, but only keep 17 pence in every pound to pay for our services. The remaining money goes to the following organisations to pay for the services they provide:
Every month we have to pay these organisations their share - whether or not people have actually paid. We must therefore ensure that we collect as much council tax as possible when it's due so that we have the money to make these payments without it impacting on other services.
Council Tax must be paid in accordance with the instructions on the bill to avoid recovery.
No. Non-payment of council tax is dealt with at the Magistrates' Court, not County Court and will not result in a County Court Judgement (CCJ).
We issue a copy of the summons to all the people named on the bill as they are all responsible for paying council tax.
Yes, once the summons has been issued the summons costs must be paid. However, if you pay the balance in full (including the summons costs) before the court date you will not incur any further recovery costs.
No, you do not have to attend court unless you choose to. If you go to the court hearing, the Magistrates will ask if you have a valid defence, which will stop a liability order being granted.
Valid defences are:
The following are not valid defences against the granting of a Liability Order:
At the council, we are constantly seeking to improve customer service, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Empowering customers with more self-serve options is a proven way to achieve these goals.
By using your voice or the keypad on your phone, you can:
Your call will be answered immediately - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please be patient listening to the information provided and select the appropriate number for your enquiry. If you need to, you will be able to leave information for us safely and securely. You will still be able to speak to an advisor for certain enquiries.
Yes. The quickest and easiest way to access council services is to register for My Preston on line.
This provides access to different services through one single login and provides information including your council tax account, bin collection day, schools, local MP details and much more.
Note: If you previously registered to see your council tax account online, these details will not work for My Preston. Please re-register for a new account.
Yes. Save time and money by signing up to receive your council tax bills straight to your inbox.
It only takes a minute to do. Just complete our simple online form to set up council tax e-billing.
Once you have signed up we will send you:
If you require help with something in this section, please contact us.