Millions of households in England, Scotland and Wales are getting a £150 tax refund to help offset the cost of living crisis. Here’s what you need to know
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Council tax refunds of £150 have been confirmed by the Government to help families in the cost of living crisis.
But not everyone is automatically eligible for the one-off payment, as it depends on your council tax gradation.
We explain below everything you need to know and what to do if you’re having trouble but can’t get a council tax refund.
The £150 payment is earmarked to support families after a huge spike in energy bills took effect this month.
For those on a standard tariff paying by direct debit, the price cap set by regulator Ofgem has just risen by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 – an increase of 54%.
Who is entitled to the municipal tax credit?
The Council Tax Refund Scheme is available to households in England, Wales and Scotland and is being handed out to millions of families.
In each decentralized nation, the one-off payment of £150 applies to houses in council tax brackets A, B, C or D.
Worried about not being able to afford your council tax bill this year? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Scotland you also qualify if you are entitled to council tax credits.
If you live in England or Wales you can find out your council tax bracket by entering your postcode on the government website here.
Those living in Scotland must use the Scottish Assessors website.
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How do I apply for a council tax refund?
If you pay your council tax by direct debit, the payment will be sent to you automatically.
The money is issued as a one-time payment to your bank account rather than a rebate on your council tax bill.
This means that you will still have to pay your council tax bill as usual.
If you are not paying by direct debit and are entitled to the £150 payment, your council should write to you and ask for your details.
Those who pay by direct debit will receive their payments first, since the municipalities already have their data.
Therefore, if you do not pay by direct debit, there may be a delay in receiving the council tax refund.
When will the municipal tax refund be paid out?
Many had expected the £150 council tax refund to be paid from April, but this has not been the case for every council.
It appears to be a postcode lottery as some council websites are still saying payments will fall this month, while others have warned of long delays.
For example, Ashford Borough Council in Kent and Manchester City Council both state on their websites that they intend to make the payments this month.
But MoneySavingExpert heard from a concerned reader who said his local authority in South Derbyshire South Derbyshire had told them payments would not be made until “June at least”.
The guideline issued to councils is that payments should be made by September 30.
The Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities said: “The exact timing of payments will vary between councils.
“Many are looking to pay eligible households in April where they already have their bank account details.”
Does the council tax refund have to be paid back?
No, this is a one-time payment from the government that does not have to be repaid.
The £150 tax refund differs from a separate £200 upfront rebate on energy bills also announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The £200 rebate will be applied to energy bills from October – but this has to be paid back.
Families will start repaying the £200 energy rebate at a rate of £40 per year over five years from 2023 to 2027.
This is levied as a kind of levy on your energy bill.
Households have no say in whether or not to accept the £200 rebate – it’s automatically applied to bills and you can’t opt out.
What other council tax assistance can I get?
If you’re struggling to pay your council tax bill but don’t qualify for the £150 rebate, you may be able to claim support through a separate £144m pot going to local authorities in England.
Each council decides who is eligible for funding and what help you can get. So contact your local authority for more information.
It’s also worth checking if you’re entitled to a 25% to 100% council tax rebate on your bill. This depends on your circumstances and where you live.
For example, single people could be entitled to a 25% discount on their council tax bill.
Or someone who has a severe intellectual disability and lives alone can get a 100% discount – the same applies if you live in a student-only household.
You may also be able to apply for help through a Council Tax Reduction program (sometimes called Council Tax Support) if you are on a low income or receive certain benefits.
Depending on your circumstances, you could see your council tax bills cut by as much as 100% – but it may be a postcode lottery as help varies depending on what your local authority offers.
Whether or not you are eligible for help through a Council Tax Support program depends largely on:
Where do you live
Your living conditions (e.g. income, number of children, benefits, residence status)
Your household income – this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
If your children live with you
When other adults live with you
Finally, if you suspect you’re paying too much council tax, you should see if it’s worth challenging your band.
However, you’ll need to do your research first, just to make sure you’re not actually underpaying council tax, or you could end up being pushed into a band.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/council-tax-rebate-2022-youll-26719790 Council tax refund 2022: when to get a £150 energy support payment and how to claim it