Check if you can get a council tax reduction or discount

If you’re on a low income or you’re disabled, your council tax could be reduced to make it more affordable. There are also discounts available if you:

  • live alone

  • live with someone who does not have to pay council tax

  • are an apprentice or a student on an approved course

  • have an empty home or holiday let

If you think your council tax bill is wrong you can appeal it.

Prioritise paying your council tax

Council tax is a payment you should prioritise, because the council can take you to court if you do not pay it. That means you should pay off council tax arrears before most other debts, like credit cards, pay-day loans or catalogues.

Check our guidance on dealing with council tax arrears.

Check if you're exempt

In some cases you may be completely exempt from paying council tax. We have guidance on who has to pay council tax.

Check if you can get a reduction

You might be able to get a council tax reduction if:

  • you're on a low income

  • you receive benefits

  • you need a carer to help you or someone living with you at home

  • you or someone who lives with you is disabled and your home is adapted or there’s an extra room to meet their needs

You may be asked to provide a letter of support from a health professional such as a doctor or a nurse.

Each council will have their own rules about who can get a reduction and how to apply.

Contact the council tax team to find out if you’re eligible.

You can also use the Citizen’s Advice Bureau council tax tool.

What a council tax reduction covers

Council tax bills are split into two parts:

  • a charge for council tax

  • a charge for water and wastewater

Council tax reduction only reduces the charge for council tax. This means if you get council tax reduction, you'll still have to pay some water and wastewater charges.

If your bill is not reduced completely you’ll need to pay the rest of the council tax bill yourself.

If you're having difficulty paying, contact a money and debt adviser as soon as possible. They’ll help you draw up a budget.

Check if you can get a discount

If you live on your own you can have your council tax bill reduced by 25%. This includes the water and wastewater charge.

You can also get a 25% council tax discount if you normally live with someone but they’re away from home in:

  • hospital

  • prison

  • a residential care home

If you live with people who are exempt

You can have your council tax and water bill reduced by 25% if you’re the only person liable for council tax in your home.

People who are not liable to pay include full-time students, apprentices, and people with certain learning disabilities or mental impairments.

Use the Citizens Advice council tax tool to check if you could get a discount.

You may get a discount if you own an empty home

If your home is empty and unfurnished, you could get a council tax exemption for 6 months. You could then get a discount of up to 50% on your council tax bill for the following 6 months.

After this the council can charge you double your normal council tax bill. This is sometimes called an unoccupied property premium or levy.

If you own a property that cannot be lived in because it needs major structural repair, you can get an exemption for a year. If you bought a property that was already empty for at least 12 months, your discount will only be 50% for up to 12 months.

Contact the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership for advice on:

  • checking if you can get a council tax discount or exemption

  • selling or renting out your empty property

  • doing repairs and renovations

If you own a holiday home

If you own a purpose built holiday home, for example a chalet or a mobile home, you can get a 50% council tax discount.

If you own a holiday home that could be used as a permanent home, you can get a discount of between 10% and 50%.

Applying for a discount or reduction

Some councils might have a form you can use to apply in their office or online. Otherwise you can send the council tax team a letter to apply for a council tax reduction or a discount.

Include the following in your letter:

  • your name

  • the name of the person eligible for the reduction, if it's not you

  • your council tax account number

  • your address and contact details

  • an explanation of your circumstances

Keep paying your council tax bill in full whilst you’re applying.

Only reduce your council tax payment once the council has told you to start paying the new amount. Otherwise you’ll be in council tax arrears.

If you have been entitled to a discount for a while, ask to have it backdated. This means you may get some money back from the council.

If your circumstances change

Tell the council tax team immediately if you have a change in your circumstances. If you do not, and the change means you’re no longer entitled to a discount, the council can fine you.

Use our letter template to report any changes to the council

If you think your council tax bill is wrong

If you disagree with your bill write a letter to the council tax team, telling them:

  • you’re appealing your bill

  • which part of the bill you think is wrong

  • the reason that the bill is wrong

Use our letter template for council tax appeals to help you know what to say.

The council should respond within 2 months. If the council agrees that your bill is wrong, the money will be taken off your bill moving forward or paid back to you.

You must continue to pay the bill as normal while you wait for a response, even though you think the bill is wrong. This is unless you’re disputing a penalty that has been added to the bill.

If you need support with your council tax bill contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Last updated: 31 March 2023

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