Council Tax FAQs

What is council tax?

Council Tax is a property based tax which was introduced on 1 April 1993 to replace Community Charge. It is a locally set tax that is payable on all domestic properties whether owned or rented. The tax pays for about one fifth of the cost of services to the borough such as education, libraries and refuse collection. The rest comes from government grants and business rates. The Primary Legislation relating to council tax is contained within the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Further information can be found on the UK Statute Law Database (see the external links section below).

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Who has to pay council tax?

Council tax is paid by home owners or tenants aged 18 or over. Where there is more than one person aged 18 or over resident in the property, the one nearest the top of the following list will be responsible for paying council tax:

  • A freeholder who lives in the property
  • A leaseholder who lives in the property
  • A tenant who lives in the property
  • Someone who has a license to live in the property
  • Any other person (including squatters) who lives in the property
  • The owner of an unoccupied property

A resident is someone aged 18 years or over who has their only or main home at the property.

If you do not live in your home but own it or have a tenancy of six months or more, you must still pay council tax if your property is:

  • Empty
  • A second home
  • A care home, nursing home or hostel
  • Lived in by more than one household (known as 'Houses in Multiple Occupation' HMO)
  • Lived in by a minister of religion or a religious community
  • Sometimes used by an employer whose staff live at the property
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Joint Liability

More than one person may be jointly liable for council tax if they live in the property and are joint owners or tenants. This means that the Council can require all or anyone of them to pay. Married couples and those living together as husband and wife or civil partners are jointly liable for payment, whether or not they have an equal interest in the property. You should inform us if your bill does not include your partner’s name.

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How much will I have to pay?

The council tax you pay depends on the value of the property in April 1991, as set by the Government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which is part of Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs (HMRC) - not the Council.

Every property is in one of eight valuation bands (A to H). The amount of council tax payable for each dwelling is calculated with reference to the eight valuation bands.

View the council tax charges per band for properties within Haringey.

For further information regarding the band of your property, please visit the GOV.UK website (external link).

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Can I get some help with paying council tax?

There are several ways we may be able to reduce your council tax bill, these include:

Your bill will show you if we have already given you any reductions. If your circumstances change during the year, this may affect your entitlement to a discount or exemption. You must notify us of any change to allow the council to independently verify the position. If this does not happen any claim may not be dealt with retrospectively. If we know that your discount or exemption is due to end we will send you a revised council tax bill nearer the time, telling you the revised amount to pay.

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Why do I have to pay over 10 months?

The legislation that covers the setting and collection of council tax states that payment of council tax is due over 10 monthly instalments if the council tax demand is issued on or before 30 April. Any demands issued or recalculated after then will be payable over the number of months left in that financial year, usually ending in February.

New rules introduced by the Government allow taxpayers to pay over twelve months (April to March) if they wish. If you applied before 17 March 2013 you will be able to pay over 12 months, but if you contact us now we can only offer instalments that end in March 2014. To do this please complete the online Direct Debit form or contact us on 020 8489 1000

The facility to extend an instalment plan on an account can only be made by the council and is not a payment option that you can make. However, if an alternative arrangement is agreed for the financial year there is no guarantee that it will be agreed in the future.

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What can I do if I can't pay my bill?

Please contact us straight away if you cannot pay or are falling behind with your payments. We will do all we can to help you. The sooner you get in touch, the more help and advice we will be able to offer.

Confidential debt counselling is available from Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB). There are two CAB's in Haringey (note the Hornsey CAB office is currently closed to personal callers).

  • Tottenham Citizens Advice Bureau - 551B Tottenham High Road, N17 6SB
  • Turnpike Lane Citizens Advice Bureau - 14A Willoughby Road, Hornsey, London, N8 0JJ

Opening times,and further information can be found on the Citizens Advice Bureau website (see the external links section below) or by phoning 0844 8269715.

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What happens if I don't pay?

We take late and non payment very seriously. If you do not pay your instalments on or before the due date you run the risk of falling into arrears and losing the right to pay by instalments. we will take action to recover the amount you owe.

Firstly, we'll send you a reminder notice which must be paid within seven days. A maximum of two reminders will be sent to you in any one year. If you do not pay within seven days, we will send you a court summons. If it is necessary to issue a summons for late or non payment, you will incur costs of £125.00.

It is important that you contact us as soon as possible by emailing the council tax team at council.tax@haringey.gov.uk or calling 020 8489 1000 if you are having difficulties in meeting your monthly instalments. We will review your circumstances and advise you how to repay the amount owed. We will also look at ways to reduce the amount payable by way of reductions. If you fail to do so it is likely that recovery action will be taken against you and this will include additional costs of £125.00 to you.

If it is necessary for us to issue a summons against you for late or non payment, we will apply for a liability order against you. This hearing takes place in a Magistrates' Court. If this happens you must pay the full amount due, plus costs. You will no longer be entitled to pay by instalments.

Once a liability order is granted we can take further recovery action against you such as:

  • declare you bankrupt in court (this will mean you won't be able to get a loan, a mortgage or a bank account)
  • send bailiffs to take away goods to the value of the money you owe
  • get your employers to take the money from your earnings
  • deduct amounts from your benefits in respect of council tax arrears
  • ask the Magistrates' Court to consider sending you to prison

Please remember that we will take action against those who wilfully withhold or avoid payment of council tax, the results of which can include the loss of your home.

To avoid unnecessary action being taken against you, you must pay your council tax on time. If you get a letter from us but can't pay, contact us as soon as you can and we'll do our best to help you. Do not ignore the letter!

For more information on recovery of council tax, please visit the recovery page.

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I'm moving, what do I need to do?

If you are moving, please let us know as soon as possible with the details of your occupation or vacation, including the names of the people moving into or out of the address so that we can change your account quickly.

You can:

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Council Tax Guides

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The following links are not part of the Haringey Council website. Please read our legal disclaimer before using these links