Changes to Council Tax discounts & exemptions
The Government announced changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions in respect of second homes and certain empty properties. This will allow councils greater flexibility over certain discounts and exemptions that may apply to empty properties. There will also be a new power to charge an additional amount of Council Tax on properties that have been continuously empty for more than two years. The changes will started on 1st April 2013.
The Government has
- Abolished the current exemption class C (unoccupied and unfurnished) and are allowing councils to set their own levels of discount
- Abolished the current exemption class A (uninhabitable) and are allowing councils to set their own levels of discount.
- Allowed councils to levy an ‘empty homes premium’ on properties that have been empty over 2 years
- Allowed the full Council Tax to be charged on second homes
East Devon District Council agreed the following changes at full council on 5th December 2012:
- Unoccupied and unfurnished property – the current 100% exemption for up to 6 months has been abolished. Instead we will give a discount of 100% for up to 3 months.
- Uninhabitable property – the current 100% exemption for up to 12 months has been abolished. Instead we will give a discount of 50% for up to 12 months.
- Long Term empty property – currently we charge 100% after 6 months. Instead the 100% will now be charged after 3 months & we will also add a 50% premium to those that have been continuously empty for 2 years.
- Second homes – currently a 10% discount can be given. From 1st April 2013 no discount will be given and these will be charged at 100%.
We are sometimes asked why we do not charge Council Tax to certain people, or why we do not give exemptions to other people. The answer is that most of the Council Tax rules are set by government legislation and we do not have the power to change them.
Here are a few examples of things that we have no discretion to change:
- decisions about whether a property is liable or not for Council Tax and the band that it is in (it is the government's Valuation Office Agency that decides this)
- the rules around who is liable to pay Council Tax
- the amount of the Sole Occupier Discount (25%) or criteria for claiming it
- the rules around other properties being exempt from Council Tax e.g., where the owner has died or in a nursing home
- the rules around other properties being allowed a discount from Council Tax e.g., where certain occupants are students, carers or severely mentally impaired
The Government abolished the current national Council Tax Benefit scheme and has asked councils to run local schemes from April 2013. Our scheme is called Council tax support. The Government has said that it will not fully fund the new scheme which means in East Devon, overall reduction in funding of 10% or about £1 million.
The Government has stated there will be no reduction in the amount of help pensioners currently receive. For more information see the Council Tax Support page.East Devon District Council - Technical Reforms Council Tax
East Devon District Council - Second or Holiday Home Discount
This follows on from changes from central government and debate here in Devon:
Futures Forum: Devon: taxing second homes
Including an interesting Freedom of Information request:
Second Homes - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
CommentsClaire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural