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Council Tax Bands Scotland and how these are determined

August 28, 2019 General

What is council tax?

Council Tax is a levy paid to your local authority based on the value of your residential properties at a specific point in time.

In Scotland, Council Tax bands are based on the property’s estimated value as at 1 April 1991 with the date of estimation being April 1993.

Assessors employ the Comparative Principle of Valuation, comparing the property under assessment with similar houses in terms of their physical attributes and area locality. This comparison includes houses that were actually sold on or around the valuation date of April 1, 1991.

Assessors are not obligated to assign a specific money value to each property but must show that its probable sale price would fall within the range of values in the corresponding band.

A council tax bill is paid either annually in the full amount or as monthly payments (traditionally if not paid annually this was paid in 10 instalments across 10 months of the year but many local authorities now permit this to be paid in 12 instalments across every month of the year).

Your local authority will use Council Tax payments to assist with paying for certain services it provides, which range from waste and recycling collection, processing, maintenance of adopted roads, pavements and footpaths, street-lighting, and the local library service.

Council tax valuation band:

You can check which Council Tax band in Scotland your property is in and how much council tax you will pay, by looking at a copy of the valuation band list held by your local council. This should be kept at the local authority’s main office and should be available for public inspection.

Some local authorities also make this list available in other places including libraries. You can also inspect the council tax valuation list published online by the Scottish Assessors’ Association at

What determines Council Tax band?

Homes are categorised into Council Tax bands based on their value as of April 1, 1991. Each band incurs an extra charge for local taxes, and local authorities provide a list of all houses within their authority, specifying their council tax valuation band.

Council Tax band – reductions and exemption’s

You will need to pay Council Tax if you are over 18 years of age and own or rent a home. The annual sum payable (as shown in the above table) for each band is based on at least 2 adults sharing and most local authorities will provide for this amount to be discounted if only one adult lives in a property.

Those on low incomes may be eligible for help through Council Tax Reduction and if you or someone you live with are severely mentally impaired you may be exempt from paying Council Tax altogether.

If your property is unoccupied, your local authority may be able to give you a discount for a limited time if you can prove you are in the process of renovating your property or it is for sale or rent.

If your property has been unoccupied for more than 12 months, your local authority has the option to charge double the normal rate of Council tax band, this is called a surcharge.

Another group of people who are entitled to a discount on their Council Tax are students. If you are a student and live alone or share the rent with other students then you will be exempt from paying Council Tax.

If you are a student but are living with someone who is not a student then you may be eligible for a reduction. If you live in halls of residence then you are exempt from paying Council Tax.

You may also be entitled to a discount on your Council Tax bill if you own a second home or a purpose-built holiday home however this will depend on your local authority’s policy; they have discretion either to grant no discount for second homes, or to grant a discount between 10% and 50%.

You will be completely exempt from paying Council Tax if the property is empty because the person previously responsible for payment of Council Tax has died. In order to be exempt from paying Council Tax, the property needs to be unoccupied and unfurnished and this exemption only lasts for a maximum of 6 months.

After the six months, the local council are entitled to offer an empty homes discount of 10% to 50%. After being empty for over 1 year the property an additional Council Tax surcharge may be applied.

You may also be exempt from paying Council Tax if your property is vacant because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable. Such an exemption however only lasts for a maximum for 12 months.

If you have not paid your Council Tax on time, your local authority should issue you with a reminder asking for payment within 7 days.

If you fail to pay this way then you lose your right to pay by instalments and a full year’s Council Tax becomes payable.

If you still have not paid the Council Tax within 28 days of the due date then your local authority may apply to the Sheriff Court for a Summary Warrant to show you are liable to pay arrears.

They must then offer you time to pay the debt. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the authorities to pay off the arrears then they may enforce the Summary Warrant by making deductions from your income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, Universal Credit or wages.

You can contest various Council Tax decisions, such as property exemptions or discounts, by writing a complaint to your local authority. They have two months to respond. If dissatisfied, appeal to the independent Valuations Appeal Committee (VAC). If your local authority doesn’t respond within two months, you can directly appeal to the VAC

Re-assessing council tax bands

Your property’s Council Tax band is not fixed and can be reassessed due to changes, such as property alterations or local developments. Band changes, if applicable, take effect only when the property is sold, encouraging homeowners to improve their homes without immediate tax impact.

If you disagree with your council tax band and think that your property may have been put into the wrong Council Tax bad for whatever reason, you can request a revaluation from the local Valuation Office Agency.

However, a request for revaluation could result in the property’s band being adjusted in the opposite direction; your property may end up being put into a higher Council Tax band.

Taxpayers should be aware that requesting a revaluation (known as making a proposal) can only be done within 6 months from the date you became responsible for payment of the property’s Council Tax.

Whilst the local Assessor may entertain requests to reconsider the banding of a property for local Council Tax purposes submitted after this period has expired (as the local Assessor has a statutory duty to maintain an accurate register), you must be aware that no formal appeal process is available to anyone who is unsuccessful when attempting to raise such a challenge.

Due to the speed with which the local Tax regime was originally brought into force in the early 1990s (and the fleeting nature with which certain properties had values attributed to them in order to determine their bands), it is not unusual to hear of cases where a local Assessor has been presented with suitable information, often years after the fact, which causes them to re-band a property with retrospective effect.

In some cases where a property’s band has been reduced with such effect, local authorities have been known to issue refunds of what has essentially become overpaid Council Tax with both existing and former taxpayers receiving money back.

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