Do Students Pay Council Tax in the UK?

Do Students Pay Council Tax in the UK?

Everyone’s situation is different, so working out if you need to pay council tax can be a headache if you are a student. However, with this guide, knowing if you’re exempt will become much simpler. 

Find out do students pay council tax in the UK.

What is Council Tax and What Does it Pay For?

Council tax is a yearly charge paid in monthly instalments. It is charged per household, not per person, and calculated based on the value of the property. 

On average students pay Council Tax around 2000 GBP per year in the UK

The tax bands in Britain range from A to H in England and Scotland, and A to I in Wales. In 2024, the average bill for a band D property is £2,171 per year. Council tax funds local services like rubbish collection, street cleaning, and schools.

Do Students Pay Council Tax in the UK?

Full-time students in the UK are typically exempt from paying council tax. If you and all your housemates are full-time students, your household qualifies for a full exemption. 

This applies to mature students as well. To be classified as a full-time student, you must be on a course lasting at least a year and requiring 21 hours of study per week.

Full exemptions are available for full-time students and individuals under 18. 

Part-time students usually need to pay council tax, though some may qualify for a reduction.

Do Students Pay Council Tax if They Live with Non-Students?

If you live with non-students, the non-students will be responsible for paying the council tax. However, they can receive a 25% discount as the only eligible adult in the property. This means it’s important to choose your flatmates carefully.

A mix of students and non-students can lead to financial tension if the non-students are left to cover the council tax bill.

Do Students Pay Council Tax During Summer?

For students on courses lasting multiple years, there is no need to pay council tax during summer breaks between academic years. 

However, if you finish an undergraduate degree and are about to start a postgraduate course, you will need to pay during the summer between these courses, as you are not considered a student during this period. 

Moving back home for the summer can be a way to avoid this cost.

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When Do You Stop Being a Student Council Tax?

Your council tax exemption as a student begins on the day your course starts and continues until the day your course ends. 

This is not the same as your graduation day, but the final day of your last semester. Even during holidays, you remain exempt. 

However, if you take a break from your studies or defer a year, you may still retain your student status and exemption.

How to Apply for Student Council Tax Exemption

To apply for an exemption, you typically need to fill out an online form and provide a ‘certificate of student status’ from your university. 

This certificate confirms your full-time student status. Some universities have systems that automatically send this information to your local council, making the process easier.

What to Do If You’re Wrongly Charged Council Tax?

If you receive a council tax bill when you shouldn’t, write to your local authority explaining why it’s incorrect. 

You may need to provide proof of your student status. If the council does not respond favourably, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service. 

Persistence is key, as councils can make mistakes, but you have the right to challenge them.

Paying Council Tax During Study Breaks

The rule of thumb is that if your course lasts for a full calendar or academic year, you won’t pay council tax during study breaks. 

If you defer your studies or take a gap year but remain registered, you should still be exempt. Always check with your council to confirm your specific situation.

Special Cases: Postgraduate Students and Non-British Dependents

Full-time postgraduate students are generally exempt, but those in the ‘writing up’ stage may face difficulties proving their student status. If you have a non-British spouse or dependent who can’t work, they are also disregarded for council tax purposes. Always seek advice if you find yourself in a complex situation.

Living in Student Accommodation and HMOs

Accommodation student halls of residence are automatically exempt from council tax. If you live in a house with multiple occupations (HMO), the property owner is usually liable for the council tax. 

HMOs include shared houses, bedsits, and hostels with multiple, unrelated tenants. Always verify with your local council if you are unsure about your HMO status.

Final Thoughts: Do Students Pay Council Tax?

Council tax can be confusing, but full-time students in the UK generally enjoy exemptions. Understanding your status and knowing when and how to apply for these exemptions can save you from unnecessary expenses. 

Always check with your local council and seek advice if needed to ensure you are correctly assessed.