Council tax

Council Tax is a kind of taxation on the property that you live in. It was created by the government and is collected locally by your Council. It pays for services such as waste collection, street lighting, police and fire services and road maintenance.

As a student, it’s important to be aware of council tax and your entitlement to an exemption or discount. Council tax can be quite expensive so, if you’re eligible, applying for an exemption or discount can save you a lot of money!

Eligibility for Council Tax exemption

It doesn’t matter whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate, a home or international student, if you are a full-time student, you are personally exempt from paying Council Tax. You are still eligible for this exemption even if you are on an interruption from full time study.

However, unless you live in Halls of Residence, this isn’t an automatic exemption. You and every student you live with will need to apply to the Council every academic year. If you are final year student, please note that your exemption lasts until the end date of your course and not your graduation date.

You are responsible for telling the Council about any changes in your circumstances. This includes when you move in to a property, when you move out and if your student status changes. There are also some regulations to keep in mind in relation to the people you may live with:

  • If you are a full-time student and live in University Halls of Residence: You are automatically exempt from paying Council Tax and don’t need to do anything!
  • If you are a full-time student and only live with other students: Your whole household will be exempt from paying council tax but you need to make sure that everyone in the house applies to the Council for an exemption.
  • If you are a full-time student and you live with one or more non-students (e.g. anyone who is not a full-time student): The non-students living in the property are liable for the council tax bill. If you live with one non-student, the Council can reduce their bill by 25%. This is called a single person discount. If the non-student you live with is struggling to pay the bill, they may qualify for extra financial support from the Council if they have a low income.
  • If you are an international student living with dependents in the UK: Your whole household should be exempt but you will need to request a Council Tax Exemption Certificate from the Student Services Centre to send to your local Council, along with copies of all visas.
  • Living at home students: If you’re living at home, we recommend that the person responsible for paying the Council Tax bill notifies the council about your student status. In some cases, this can lead to money off the bill.

How and when to apply for an exemption

If you are living in private accommodation, it’s important to apply for your Council Tax exemption as soon as you are confirmed as a registered student and move into your new place. If you only live with other full-time students, you should all apply.

You can usually apply for council tax exemption online on your Council’s website. Just make sure you have the following information ready:

· the full name of each resident

· the full address and post code

  • the student ID number of each student
  • the date each resident moved in
  • the date the tenancy started

Most central and south Manchester postcodes are covered by Manchester City Council. Apply for your exemption here: http://tinyurl.com/manchestercounciltax.

If you’re not sure which Council your property comes under, check this here.

Follow the links to below to register for exemption if you live in the wider Greater Manchester area:

Council Tax exemption certificates

In some situations you may need to provide the Council with proof of your student status.

A council tax exemption certificate can be obtained from the Student Services Centre.

Request your certificate by e-mail.

Problems with council tax

It’s very important that you don’t ignore letters from the Council about Council Tax. Occasionally, there can be admin issues and the Council may not have an up to date record about your student status.

If this happens the Council could mistakenly decide to charge you for the Council Tax bill. If this isn’t resolved, the Council could decide to take enforcement action.

If the Council believe you have Council Tax arrears (debt), they will issue a Court Summons to apply to the magistrate’s court for a ‘liability order’. This is an order (basically a decision confirmed in writing), which states that the person is liable to pay a specific amount of Council Tax and has not paid it. If a liability order is granted, this allows the Council to recover the debt by various means, including by using bailiffs.

We understand that enforcement action can feel stressful and overwhelming. The best action you can take is to contact your local Council and explain that you are a full time student.

Where possible, try to call the Council, as this is often the quickest way to prevent the matter escalating. Contact Manchester City Council on 0161 234 5002 or find your relevant contact details on your bill.

Putting your account on hold

Ask the Council to put your account on hold and explain you will provide proof of your student status as soon as possible. If a court date has been arranged, ask the Council to cancel this.

Once the court date is cancelled, check that the Council does not intend to charge you the court fee (summons cost). You can ask them not to charge you. The charge may be waived if you can show the Council was at fault for taking enforcement action. Contact the Advice Service if you need help with this.

Supply proof of your student status

When your account is on hold, contact the Student Services Centre to request a council tax exemption certificate. You and all of your housemates should do this.

Send your certificates to the Council as soon as you can.

The Council should process your evidence and ensure than an exemption is applied to your property.

Council tax reduction for part time students

If you are a part-time student, you won’t be eligible for a Council Tax exemption. However, if you are on a low income, you may qualify for a Council Tax Reduction.

If your household is required to pay Council Tax and you are a part-time student and/or the other tenants are on a low income, you may be eligible to claim for Council Tax Reduction or a Second Adult Rebate to reduce the charge.

These are means-tested benefits so any amount paid will depend on your household income and who lives with you. In some circumstances, even if you’re entitled to Council Tax Reduction, you may actually be better off claiming Second Adult Rebate. Visit your local Council’s website for information on how to apply to their Council Tax Reduction scheme or a Second Adult Rebate.

How Advice Can Help You

Most students find the process of applying for council tax exemption straight forward.

Please contact the Advice Service if:

  • You need help to prevent the Council taking enforcement action. This includes applying for a liability order or if bailiffs are trying to contact you.
  • You are having difficulty accessing an exemption certificate from the Student Service Centre.
  • You need help to apply for a Council Tax Reduction.
  • You have any other enquiries relating to Council Tax, which you have not been able to find the answer to here or on your council website.
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