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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.

You could also get a discount if you live alone, or you live with someone who's exempt from council tax.

Prioritise paying your council tax, because the council can take you to court if you do not pay it.

If you're behind on payments, check our guidance on dealing with council tax arrears.

Getting a reduction if you're on a low income or disabled

You could get a council tax reduction if:

  • you're on a low income

  • you get benefits

  • you or someone who lives with you needs a live-in carer

  • 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.

What a council tax reduction covers

Council tax bills are split into two parts:

  • a charge for council tax

  • a charge for water and waste

A council tax reduction only reduces the charge for council tax. This means if you get a 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, get money and debt advice as soon as possible. An adviser can help you draw up a budget.

Getting a single person 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.

Getting a discount if you own an empty home

If you own a property that's empty and unfurnished, you could get:

  • a council tax exemption for up to 6 months

  • a discount of up to 50% 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 had already been 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 second home

The council can charge up to double the normal council tax rate. This applies if the home is not your main home, but is lived in for at least 25 days of the year.

If you own a purpose-built holiday home that cannot be lived in full-time, for example a chalet or a mobile home, you can get a 50% council tax discount.

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 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 while you wait for the council's response.

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

The council should respond within 2 months. If the council agrees that your bill is wrong, the money will be taken off your bill in future 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.

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

Last updated: 28 April 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England