What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a tax on domestic property that is collected by local authorities. It is a yearly charge normally paid in ten or twelve monthly instalments, starting in April.

Your bill shows your payment dates and amounts. Southampton City Council offers payment dates of the 1st, 8th, 15th and 23rd of the month.

Most homes have to pay Council Tax. There is only one bill per household, regardless of how many people live in the house.

Council Tax applies to houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes and house boats, both owned and rented.

Some properties are exempt from Council Tax altogether and so no Council Tax is payable.

These include properties where the only people living in them are:

  • Students
  • All aged under 18
  • Severely mentally impaired
  • Diplomats and certain dependants
  • Dependant relatives in self contained parts of the property, such as a granny annexe

Empty properties that:

  • Are owned by a charity (exempt for 6 months)
  • Have been repossessed
  • Must not be occupied as it has been forbidden by law
  • Are awaiting occupation by a minister of religion
  • Are difficult to let separately because they form a part of another home
  • Are a vacant pitch or mooring

Properties left empty by someone who:

  • Is in prison (but not for non-payment of fines or Council Tax)
  • Is receiving care in a hospital, a home or elsewhere
  • Is a student 
  • Is providing care to another person
  • Has died (exempt for up to 6 months after the grant of probate or letters of administration)
  • Is a trustee in bankruptcy

The Council Tax you pay

The amount of Council Tax you pay is dependent on 3 main factors.

1. The tax set by the council, fire and rescue service and police force

Council Tax helps pay for council services, such as:

  • Education
  • Fire and police services
  • Roads
  • Libraries
  • Bin collection

The council produce a spending plan each year which is used to determine how much council tax residents need to pay to ensure city wide services continue.

If you want to find out more about how the Council Tax payment is broken down, a guide to Council Tax and Business Rates is available. Hampshire Fire and Rescue and Hampshire Constabulary information is also available.

2. The valuation band that your home has been placed in

All homes are given a council tax valuation band by the Valuation Office Agency. The band is based on the value of your home on 1 April 1991.

A different amount of Council Tax is charged on each band.

Each local authority keeps a list of all the domestic property in its area, together with its valuation band. This is called the valuation list.

Find out more about council tax bands

3. Whether you are entitled to any help toward your bill

Not everyone will have to pay the full amount of Council Tax. There are three ways in which your Council Tax bill may be reduced.

These are:

  • The reduction scheme for disabled people
  • Discounts
  • Council tax reduction and second adult rebate

Find out more about Council Tax discounts and exemptions