How to check your council tax band

With council tax bills set to rise this year by an average 5%, make sure you’re not paying any more than you have to by checking you’re in the right council tax band. A simple check could save you hundreds.

A residential street of Victorian style terrace houses in London
(Image credit: © Getty images)

Thousands of households could be overpaying for their council tax simply by being in the wrong tax band. If you’re in a higher band than what you should be then you will ultimately be paying more in tax each year. But, with council tax bills going up from April by around 5%, and 10% in some London boroughs, now is the time to check.

The increases follow an announcement by chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his November Budget, which gave councils the power to increase rates by as much as 5% (up from 2%) without a referendum.

Household budgets are already under strain from higher energy costs, double-digit inflation and rising interest rates - so anything you can do to keep costs low can help.

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And although a 5% increase might not seem like much, it adds around a hundred pounds to a band D home.

We explain how council tax bands work and how to check yours.

What are the council tax bands?

Council tax bands range from A to H - the higher your band the more council tax you pay.

They are calculated based on the value of your home, but not the value you would be selling it for today. Instead, the bands are based on how much your property was worth over thirty years ago.

In England and Scotland, it would be how much your property was worth on 1 April 1991. In Wales, it’s 1 April 2003.

The band ranges differ per region, but these are the ones for England:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Council tax bandUK average home value
Band AUp to £40,000
Band B Over £40,000 and up to £52,000
Band COver £52,000 and up to £68,000
Band DOver £68,000 and up to £88,000
Band EOver £88,000 and up to £120,000
Band GOver £160,000 and up to £320,000
Band HOver £320,000

What council tax band am I in?

To find out which council tax band you’re paying:

  • Check your council tax bill
  • Ask your local authority
  • Use the government website

The government website’s postcode checker allows you to check for properties in England and Wales, while the Scottish Assessors Association lets you check Scottish properties

To check your annual bill, you can go to your local authority website. Find your local authority by typing in your postcode.

How to check you are on the right council tax band

If your council tax differs from your neighbours despite you having a similar property, it’s worth looking into it.

To do so you’d have to work out what your property was worth in 1991, when the bands were set. You can use tools such as Nationwide’s House Price Calculator to figure out what the value of your home was three decades ago.

If you work out the calculations and find the value differs from the band you’re on, you might be able to challenge your council.

What can I do if I’m in the wrong council tax band?

If you think you’re in the wrong band, you should head to the Valuation Office Agency website.

The process is free but lengthy. You won’t pay a fee, no matter what the decision is. But you will be waiting up to 90 working days.

If the Valuation Office Agency finds you were in fact in the wrong band, you can get a refund which will be backdated to when you moved into the property, or when the tax was introduced in 1993 – whichever one is the most recent.

While it’s not very common, it’s worth keeping in mind your local authority could also find you’re paying less than what you should be and hike your bill, so double check your numbers before taking action.

Nicole García Mérida

Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.