A Council Tax demand comprises of a 50% property element and a 50% personal element. A full Council Tax demand assumes that there are at least two qualifying adults resident in the household.
However, there are two types of discount a taxpayer may qualify for.
One relates to a discount awarded in respect of empty properties. (‘Empty’ means unoccupied and substantially unfurnished)
The second category refers certain residents living in a domestic property. These reductions are known as Sole Occupier Discount, and Status Discount. A discount can also be applied in respect of an annexe.
Empty Property Discount
Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties: (The Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012)
If a property is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished, a discount of 100% can be awarded for up to one month. The discount will start on the first day a property becomes empty. It will not be affected by any subsequent change in the person liable to pay Council Tax provided that the property remains empty. This is because the 100% discount is calculated from the day the property first becomes unoccupied and unfurnished.
Uninhabitable Property Discount
Regulation 2(4): The Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
If an empty property is undergoing, or requires, major structural repair to make it habitable, then a discount of 50% can be granted for up to twelve months. The discount will start on the first day a property is determined as being uninhabitable by the Council. It will not be affected by any subsequent change in the person liable to pay Council Tax provided that the property continues to qualify for the discount. The full charge of Council Tax will be applied once the major work is completed, or after the twelve months has expired.
An empty property discount will only be considered if you provide your residential address.
Properties which remain empty and unfurnished for 2 years will be charged an additional 50% Empty Property Premium.
An adjusted bill will be issued automatically once the discount period expires or is affected following a change in circumstances.
You should contact the Council to inform us when your property becomes empty or occupied.
Where only one adult lives in a dwelling (as their main home) Council Tax liability is reduced by 25%. This is known as Sole Occupier Discount.
Complete the Sole Occupier Discount application form, or contact the council if you would like some advice.
Certain people can be disregarded when calculating the number of adults resident in a dwelling for Council tax purposes. It is therefore possible for a discount to apply in some cases where there are two or more adults resident.
- Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees
- Patients resident in hospital
- People who are being looked after in care homes
- People who are severely mentally impaired
- People staying in certain hostels or night shelters
- 18 and 19 year olds who are at or who have just left school
- Resident careworkers working for low pay, usually for charities
- People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner, or child under 18
- Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
- Members of religious communities (monks and nuns)
- People in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of Council Tax or a fine)
- Spouses of students where the spouse is not a U.K. citizen and is thereby prevented from seeking employment or claiming benefits
- People who are entitled to diplomatic privileges or immunity.
In households where there are both students and non-students, only the non-students will be liable for Council Tax.
Students must satisfy the following conditions to be disregarded from Council Tax.
Full time study
You are regarded as a full time student for Council Tax purposes if you are:
in further or higher education:
- for at least one academic or calendar year
- at a prescribed education establishment (e.g. a university or theological college)
in further education and under the age of 20:
- on a course that lasts three months or more
- attending at least 12 hours a week for supervised study or examination
- where classes are carried out between 8.30am and 5.30pm
- where the course in not carried out by correspondence
a student nurse:
- attending a course that leads to an appropriate registration under section 10 of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979
a foreign language assistant:
- appointed by a school or education establishment and registered as a foreign language assistant with the British Council
The following do not qualify:
- Evening classes
- Correspondence courses
- Job-related training
Discounts and exemptions that can be considered
- Properties occupied solely by students will be exempt from Council Tax (Class N). This includes accommodation that is occupied by a single student.
- Where there is a household with a mix of students and non-students, only the students can be disregarded when deciding if a reduction may be given. If there are two or more occupiers who are not students, then there will be no discount applied. If there is only one adult occupier who is not a student, then we can grant the student discount of 25%
The full council tax bill assumes that there are two adults aged 18 or over living in a property. Certain people are not counted when looking at the number of adult’s resident, and this includes people who are ‘severely mentally impaired’. This term is used in Council Tax law, which is why it is referred to here, and it is not meant to cause any offence. If, for example, there are two adults living at a properly, and one of them is severely mentally impaired, the bill is worked out as if only one adult is resident and it is reduced by 25%. If all the residents are severely mentally impaired, there will be no Council Tax to pay as a full exemption will apply (Class U).
For Council Tax purposes, the legal definition of severely mentally impaired is a ‘severe impairment of the intelligence and social functioning, (however caused), which appears to be permanent’.
Before you start your application
To qualify for a reduction, the person who is severely mentally impaired must be entitled to receive one of a number of certain benefits, and the full list is in the online form. We will need to see proof of entitlement for the whole period that a reduction in the Council Tax bill is being claimed for.
Secondly, the person’s doctor must verify that their condition falls within the definition above and a Doctor’s certificate is required as part of this application. This should be completed and signed by the person’s GP or other medical practitioner. The Doctor’s Certificate can be found in the DOWNLOADS area of this page.
If you have 2 homes, one of which is job-related, you may receive a 50% discount on whichever one you do not occupy as your main home. It does not matter which one of the properties is required for fulfilling your job.
A dwelling is job-related for a person if it is provided for them by reason of their employment or for their partner by reason of the partner's employment, in any of the following cases:
(a) where it is necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the employment that the employee should live in that dwelling;
(b) where the dwelling is provided for the better performance of the duties of the employment, and it is one of the kinds of employment in the case of which it is customary for employers to provide dwellings to employees;
(c) where, there being a special threat to the employee's security, special security arrangements are in force and the employee resides in the dwelling as part of those arrangements
Examples of the types of employment sometimes affected are public house managers and caretakers.
The full Council Tax will be charged on second homes (furnished properties where no-one lives or the owner has a main home elsewhere).
From 1 April 2014, annexes which are used by the occupier of a main house as part of their main home, or annexes which are occupied by a relative of the person living in the main house, will be entitled to a 50% reduction in the Council Tax payable on the annexe.
The 50% reduction is on top of any other discount you or your relative may be entitled to. For example: if your adult son is living in the annexe on his own, he will be liable for Council Tax, but he will be entitled to a 25% single occupier discount and a 50% annexe discount.
The criterion for the annexe discount is:
The annexe must form part of a single property which includes at least one other property. That means: the annexe must be within the grounds of the main house (though not necessarily attached), and must be included in the title deeds of the main house and not registered separately.
The annexe is being used by the resident of the main house, as part of their main home,
The annexe is occupied by a relative of the person who lives in the main property. For this purpose, a relative is defined as: a partner, parent, child, step child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew and niece (and also includes great grandparent, great grandchild, etc.)
Other reductions available for annexes
If you have a close relative who lives in the annexe and they are over 65 years of age, or they are either severely mentally impaired or substantially and permanently disabled, the annexe may be exempt from Council Tax.
Similarly, if the annexe is unoccupied and cannot be let separately because of a planning restriction, then it could also be exempt.
If you are currently receiving a discount, you must tell us about any change to your household using the 'Report changes to your household' link shown on the right of this page. For example, if someone resident with you becomes 18, or if anyone aged 18 or over joins your household.
You must also tell us if you occupy a property for which you are currently paying an unoccupied property charge, even if that charge is equivalent to full Council Tax. If you do not do this, and we continue to assume the property remains unoccupied, it will eventually become subject to the additional 50% Premium Charge that is applied to properties after two years of them becoming empty.
Applications for discount must be made in writing. Some forms are available to complete online, and the links are shown on this page. Alternatively, you can download PDF versions to print, complete and return. These are listed at the bottom of this page.
You can also write to us at: Sefton Council, PO Box 21, Bootle L20 3US
We may write to you to ask for further information depending on the discount that you apply for.
Backdating an award of a Council Tax discount
It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that an application for a discount or exemption is made as soon as possible.
If you have made a request for a discount or exemption to be backdated, we may check your application by visiting the property and checking other records.
We will not usually backdate a discount or other reduction unless there are exceptional circumstances. If your request is refused, you can appeal to the council in writing, providing as much relevant documentary evidence as possible.