Words are very important – which is why one small word used by Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the £150 tax refund has caused much confusion and frustration.
When the £150 payment was announced, many people – myself included – thought the refund would come “in” April. In fact, the discount applies “from” April.
That means thousands of people have contacted us to say they didn’t get the discount on their bill – and might not get it for some time.
Municipalities have until September 30 to pay the rebate, according to MoneySavingExpert. To add to the confusion, the rules are different in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Oh, and on top of that, each council has a different process. Confused? Obviously there are a lot of people. Here are the most frequently asked questions about rebates – and also some tips on council tax.
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What happens if I haven’t received a council tax refund?
Due to the widespread variations of the discount, it’s a bit of a zip code lottery when it comes to figuring out when you’ll get the money.
The current advice is to go to your local government website, which should have some updates. I’ve checked a few and some are clearly lacking in information. So don’t worry if the website hasn’t been updated yet.
Many councils are asking people not to contact them to ask about the discount. But you can Contact your municipality for help and support with financial difficulties if you are concerned about paying tax.
So get in touch and let them know. You may also be eligible for a payment or vouchers from the Household Support Fund.
What council tax refund scams should I be aware of?
Scammers, scammers, and opportunists depressingly spring into action whenever there’s confusion about things like discounts and refunds.
Scammers can text you, email or phone you and ask for your details in order to process the refund.
This is of particular concern as you may be contacted in a similar manner by your municipality if you do not pay by direct debit.
Remember, never give your bank details or personal information to a stranger over the phone, no matter how convincing it may seem.
The council should update their website to explain how these refunds work and if you are unsure of who is calling, simply call the council tax hotline so you know you are connected to a real number.
Don’t call back the number the person on the phone gives you – you could be sent straight back to the scammers.
Also watch out for opportunistic companies. These companies can be fake or legit by offering a service for a fee or a percentage of your money.
But don’t use them. Opportunistic companies will charge you for something you can do for free.
Remember that only your local government can apply the discount – so you should only deal with them. There is no faster way for a company to get you a refund.
MSE also found there may be £230million lying around in your council’s coffers, waiting to be reclaimed.
Again, you don’t have to pay a company to get your money back – see my guide further down the article on overpayment refunds.
What happens if I don’t pay the council tax by direct debit?
Although we don’t have the exact numbers, about a quarter of people don’t pay their council tax by direct debit.
This poses a problem for municipalities, as the rebate is usually paid into your bank account by the municipality and not deducted from the bill.
So if you pay cash or check, the discount may not be applied to your account due to lack of bank details.
Your municipality should contact you if you are not paying by direct debit, but given the speed of notice and the way some municipalities work, it may take a while and some errors may occur.
Keep an eye on the site and if you know someone who is older or more vulnerable, help them too.
Alternatively, you can now also set up a payment by direct debit so that the discount can be paid out directly to you.
If I live in a meetinghouse or receive benefits, do I still get the discount?
Since the rebate is designed to counter rising costs like utility bills, it shouldn’t matter if you don’t pay council tax or receive benefits or pay less tax. However, this is still a gray area.
For example, some tenants may not pay council tax as part of their contract but pay full utility bills. So you could lose under the existing leadership.
The government appears to be “consulting” on this issue right now, so keep an eye out for more answers here. If you receive benefits, you may still pay some council tax, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting the full rebate.
What happens if I don’t live in council tax brackets A to D?
The state regulation only applies to people living in municipal tax bands A to D, with some exceptions.
Here’s what they say: “Households are eligible if they are subject to council tax on April 1, 2022 on a property that is in council tax groups AD and where they live as their primary residence.
“This includes those who receive council tax support even if their council tax bill for the year is less than £150.”
It goes on to say: “If the occupants of a property are in Groups A – D am 1 HMOs for council tax purposes), Class S (under 18 years of age), Class U (people with a severe intellectual disability), Class W (annexes owned by a dependent relatives).”
What is really difficult is that the rate tax ranges are being worked out for prices from – wait a minute – 1993 (1991 in Scotland and 2003 in Wales). So it’s really difficult to know if you’re in the right band.
You can check on your national tax website how to appeal a banding and what criteria might apply. But if ever a system needed updating, this is it.
What if I live in a block of flats – can I still get the £150 rebate?
The rebate is paid to each ‘household’, which is defined as ‘an individual or group of individuals residing in a property that is subject to a separate council tax bill’. So that includes the standard nuclear family and things like shared apartments for students.
The discount goes to the account of the person paying the bill. If you live in a multi-family household and do not pay by direct debit, you should be able to designate someone to take the money.
I heard there are millions of dollars in overpaid council taxes waiting to be reclaimed – how do I do that?
Most people won’t think they overpaid their council tax. But the reality is there are millions of pounds of overpayments sitting around waiting to be recovered.
That’s because you typically pay the tax upfront and spread it out over 10 months, meaning most of us who pay regularly have a balance. The problem arises when you move to a new community area.
This prepayment will not necessarily be refunded to you “pro rata” based on the move-out date. Also, some people forget to cancel their direct debit.
Finally, if the people who live in your property after you remodel the home (so the property is in a cheaper band) then you’ve technically overpaid for years – which means you’re entitled to a substantial refund could.
If you paid by direct debit, chances are you’ve already received the refund. If not — and you’ve moved out of the community’s catchment area in the past three decades — you might be able to claim them.
However, given that local governments are already asking people not to call them for the rebate, they probably won’t be able to deal with people calling en masse for overpayment refunds.
Most have an online form you can fill out, so go that route first. And don’t pay a company for it!
You can get help, save money and make a complaint with almost any problem at www.resolver.co.uk
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/my-150-council-tax-rebate-26775724 "My £150 tax refund hasn't reached my bank yet - when will I get it?"