Martin Lewis explains 7 ways you can legally save hundreds on council tax
Martin found 7 ways to pay less
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Hundreds of thousands of people are paying the wrong council tax – and that means they could be owed thousands back, Martin Lewis has said.
The good news is that the money saving expert just explained exactly how to check to see if you could pay less.
"You could be owed thousands of pounds in a host of different ways," he told viewers of ITV's Martin Lewis Money Show.
And you can get the overpaid tax backdated all the way to 1993 – seeing some serious amounts of cash returned to you.
In fact, he found seven different ways people could pay less.
This is what he said you should check.
1. Check your council tax band
Are you paying more than your neighbours?
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This is the biggy – with as many 400,000 homes in the wrong council tax band.
If you're in the wrong band, and paying too much council tax, you can also backdate this all the way to 1993.
Martin pointed to one viewer who claimed back £3,300 as a result.
And it's simple to check, too.
"I came up for with this system back in 2007 … it's got two checks to it," Martin said.
The first thing to do is check what your neighbours are paying by going to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.
It you're paying more than your neighbours are, it's on to step two.
You can see what neighbours pay online
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This is where you need to work out what your house was worth in 1991.
The good news is there are plenty of free tools online to let you do this, for example this one from Nationwide.
Once you know that, you can see what band you should have been put in.
But Martin has a warning too.
"Only apply if both check's show you are in too high a band," he said.
That's because if you get it wrong, and its your neighbours who are in the wrong band, they could see their bills rise, while yours stay the same.
Which won't make you the most popular.
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2. Discounts for lower occupancy
"If you are a single adult, living alone, you should get a 25% discount on council tax," Martin said.
But he added that you don't need to live alone to claim this.
It's all about qualifying adults, so students, carers, children and others can all be disregarded for council tax.
In fact, in some cases every person living in a house can be excluded – meaning no tax is due at all.
Claims on this can be cackdateable too.
3. Discounts for benefit claimants
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There are discounts of up to 100% for people on certain benefits.
But these aren't automatically applied when you claim the benefit – you need to directly with your local council (details of your council is at www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction ).
The reduction comes on top of any benefits or universal credit you receive, but the reduction amount depends on your council and circumstances – for example, where you live, your income, if children live with you, if other adults live with you.
Some councils let you backdate the reduction, but it depends on the individual council, so you need to check.
Severe mental health impairment council tax discounts
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If you – or someone you live with – has a disability, a health condition or are a carer, you could be overpaying on council tax without even knowing it.
There's a 25% discount if you live with someone with a severe mental impairment and no other adults, or only adults who are also disregarded for council tax purposes or a 100% discount – if you have a severe mental impairment and live alone.
The better news is claims are back-dated – meaning you could get huge amounts back.
One viewer got £700 back for their father, and claimed another £2,100 for their mother.
"To get it back contact your local council," Martin said.
5. Coronavirus help
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Some also helping out people who have lost income as a result of coronavirus.
The Local Government Association advised residents to check their council website to see who qualifies for a tax break.
It's all thanks to a support fund made available by the Treasury – aimed at helping working age people who are on a Local Council Tax Support Your council tax could be slashed by £150 a year.
Those who already pay less than £150 a year will not pay council tax at all.
6. Have you adapted your home?
If you've made changes to your home for a disabled resident, you could also get cash back.
But rather than a discount, you may instead be able to get your council tax band lowered.
7. Are they sitting on your cash
Many people pay council tax a month or a year ahead – and that means if you move house, they keep it until you ask for it back.
So if you've moved in the past few years, search for council tax refunds on your old council's site.