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Council tax

Overview

Council tax bills follow the financial year, running from April to March. They are sent out annually, at the end of March, and show the coming financial year's charges and instalments. Your payment must reach your local Wiltshire Council office by the dates shown on your bill. 

The following pages detail the different ways you can pay your bill; give guidance on how to register online to manage your council tax; tell you how much you should be paying and where your money is spent; and offer advice on appeals and who to contact if you are struggling to pay. 

Login and manage your council tax online

Manage everything to do with your council tax, online, and in one place.

Manage your council tax online (opens new window)

Registering for an account allows you to:

  • pay your council tax simply, quickly and securely
  • confirm payments have been received
  • see your account history
  • set up or amend a Direct Debit
  • apply for council tax discount
  • tell us you have moved
  • print a copy of your bill
  • request to make payments over 12 months, rather than the standard 10 months
  • request to change to eBilling, and opt-out of receiving a paper bill by post

To set-up your account you will need your council tax reference, which can be found on your bill, or a bank statement (if you pay by direct debit).

See our guidance on getting started, and a walk-through the system: Managing your council tax online (YouTube) (opens new window)

If you prefer to notify us of changes, like a death in the household, by phone, please see our Reporting any changes page.

Paying your council tax

There are multiple ways you can pay your council tax.

Council tax payments can now be paid over 12 months, rather than the previous 10 months. You can change to 12 monthly payments via your account. If you do not have an account, read about the benefits and sign-up here: Login and manage your council tax online.

Reporting any changes

Moving house - changed your address? Has someone else moved out, or passed away, or have your circumstances changed and you need to let us know? Notify us of any changes that may affect your council tax.

If you have registered to manage your account online, you can notify us of changes via your account. If you do not have an online account, or if you prefer to call us, contact the council tax team.  If you have a bill, please have this to-hand, ready to quote the account reference number.

If you are in receipt of a discount, disregard, or exemption on your council tax, and your circumstances change, you must tell us immediately: Contact the council tax team.

Council tax bands and charges

The amount of council tax you pay is based on which council tax band your property is in. This is based on how much the property was worth on 1 April 1991. Homes built since 1991 are still valued on the basis of what they would have been worth in 1991. Your council tax bill states which band you are in.

Council tax spending

Wiltshire Council works with many organisations to provide services which are part of everyday life in Wiltshire. These services are accessible to everyone who lives in Wiltshire, and council tax helps to pay for them.

Public sector organisations set its share of council tax

As the billing authority, Wiltshire Council is responsible for collecting council tax on behalf of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, and the town and parish councils. These public sector organisations are facing financial pressures and challenges, and each has the responsibility for setting its share of the council tax.

Your council tax charge in 2024 to 2025

This year we will raise council tax by 2.99% to help fund vital services. In 2024 to 2025, central government is letting local authorities with responsibility for adult social care, raise an additional 2% on their current council tax. This is to be used entirely for adult social care, in recognition of demographic changes which are leading to a growing demand for these services in Wiltshire. 'Demographic' refers to segments of society, like age, gender, disability, occupation, or cultural background.

Wiltshire Council plans to use these additional funds to ease the increased pressure on adult social care budgets. The Wiltshire Council budget for 2024 to 2025 has been set at £490 million, of which approximately 75% is funded by council tax (including the adult social care levy). In the 2024 to 2025 financial year, a band D household will pay £1,805.73 to Wiltshire Council, of which, £1,545.45 is for basic council tax, and £260.28 for the adult social care levy.

A simple overview on where council tax monies are spent

For every £100 of core funding we receive to fund services, we spend:

  • £38 on caring for vulnerable adults
  • £21 on supporting and safeguarding our children and young people
  • £9 on managing Wiltshire's waste
  • £9 on maintaining Wiltshire's highways, and subsidising local bus services
  • £8 on funding the investment in Wiltshire's schools, roads, and housing
  • £6 on running the council and holding elections
  • £4 on the council's extensive property assets
  • £3 on our online and digital services
  • £1 on Wiltshire leisure and libraries
  • £1 on improving Wiltshire's economy

Town and parish spending

Town and parish councils that precept in excess of £140,000 in 2024 to 2025 are required to provide a breakdown of their service expenditure. This applies to the following councils:

Town and parish spending

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire

Your Police and Crime Commissioner

The role of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon includes:

  • setting the strategic direction for policing in Wiltshire and Swindon through a four-year plan published by Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) (opens new window).
  • securing efficient and effective policing for the area
  • holding the Wiltshire Police Chief Constable to account for delivering effective policing in accordance with the Police and Crime Plan
  • working with local authorities as well as voluntary and community organisations to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime
  • engaging with communities
  • setting the policing and crime element of council tax, having consulted on the proposal
  • commissioning services to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour, and to support victims of crime. The main service they commissions is Wiltshire Police.

The Commissioner's priority is to work with communities and partners to:

  • prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
  • protect the most vulnerable in society
  • put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do
  • secure high quality, efficient, and trusted services

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service

It is a requirement for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority to set a level of revenue budget and council tax before the start of the coming financial year.

At its budget-setting meeting on 8 February 2024, the Authority approved a total net budget requirement of £73.92 million to run Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for the year 2024 to 2025:

Wiltshire Council budget and spending plans 2024 to 2025

The budget requirement is the money we need to pay for services once we have taken account of money coming in from fees and charges and specific and general government grants. The budget requirement for Wiltshire Council in 2024 to 2025 is £490.298 million.

Get help with your council tax

If you are struggling to pay your council tax, the first thing to do is see if you qualify for a discount or exemption on our Discounts and exemptions pages.

If you are on a low income, whether you are working or not, check to see if you can get a reduction on our Council tax reduction pages.

If you still need help, contact us to discuss your options. We may be able to arrange a different payment agreement with you, or advise if any other help is available.

Under no circumstances should you ignore your bill or skip a payment without speaking to us.

You still have to pay your council tax while we are processing appeals, or applications for discounts, exemptions or reductions. 

Discounts and exemptions

A full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults over 18 living in the property. However, depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a discount, or an exemption may apply to your property.

Application forms and evidence

If you think you qualify for a discount or exemption, download the relevant application form below, and return it to your local Wiltshire Council office with the evidence required.

If you are receiving a discount or exemption on your council tax, and your circumstances change, you must tell us immediatelyContact the council tax team.

Council tax exemptions

Some properties are exempt from council tax altogether. Your property may be exempt for only a short period, for example, six months, or indefinitely. Find the list of exemptions here:

Council tax exemptions

Properties undergoing alteration or major repair are not eligible for a council tax discount or exemption.

Empty Homes and Premium

There is no discount given to empty homes. This includes homes between lets, second homes or homes that require repairs. 

Once a property has been empty and unused for two years or more on it will be subject to a 50% Empty Homes Premium. This means that owners of an empty homes will have to pay 150% of the council tax charge, once this period has been reached. A change in ownership at any stage, does not trigger a new two year period. 

There are a two exceptions where the Empty Homes Premium will not be applied: 

  • an empty property that is the sole or main residence of a member of the armed forces who is absent from the property as a result of their service
  • an unoccupied annexe in a property that is being used as part of the main dwelling in the property

Army and service personnel

We are unable to grant a discount at a property if one of the occupiers is away in the armed forces. This is because the house would still be classed as their main residence for taxation purposes. This applies to all those in the armed forces throughout the country and is in accordance with the government guidelines.

However, all armed forces personnel deployed on operations overseas, who normally pay council tax, benefit from a tax-free payment on the cost of council tax paid directly by the Ministry of Defence (gov.uk) (opens new window).

If you think you may qualify for any kind of discount and need help with your application, please get in touch: Contact the council tax team.

Fair processing statement

We will keep and use your personal information in line with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds that it administers and, to this end, may use the information you have provided to the authority for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies administering or in receipt of public funds, such as HM Revenues and Customs.

The council participates in data matching exercises internally and through the National Fraud Initiative (gov.uk) (opens new window).

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information used to:

  • prevent or detect benefit fraud or any other crime
  • support national fraud initiatives
  • protect public funds

Find out more about the National Fraud Initiative (gov.uk) (opens new window).

Appealing your council tax

If you think your council tax bill is wrong you can appeal.

All appeals must be made in writing to Wiltshire Council, see contact the council tax team for our address details. If you are successful, a refund will be issued where applicable. 

Banding appeals

Each property is put into a council tax band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) (opens new window), not Wiltshire Council. The band is based on the property's value in 1991. If you think your council tax band is wrong, you must contact the VOA office directly to make an appeal (opens new window).

If your appeal for re-banding is successful and your property is put in a lower band, you will be entitled to a refund for any excess amount you have paid, back to the date it was first banded. If your appeal results in your property being banded higher, you will be expected to pay the higher rate of council tax from that point onwards.

Please read the VOA's information regarding how a banding is set to carefully consider your appeal. If your property is re-banded following an appeal, the VOA will notify us directly of the change.

Council tax bill liability appeals

If you feel that an error has been made on your council tax bill, you can appeal it with us. We can only issue bills on the information we have been provided; it is your responsibility to keep us up-to-date when there are changes to your household that might result in an increase or reduction on your bill. You will need to inform us if:

All appeals must be made in writing to Wiltshire Council - contact the council tax team. If you are successful, a refund will be issued where applicable.

If your appeal to us is unsuccessful and you want to take it further, seek independent advice with the Valuation Tribunal (opens new window), which offers a free service to all council tax and business rate payers who wish to appeal.

You still have to pay your council tax while we are processing appeals, or applications for discounts, exemptions or reductions. 

Failing to pay your council tax

The council has a duty to collect council tax from every resident. Under no circumstances should you ignore your bill or skip a payment - speak to us first, we may be able to help.

If you are unable to make a payment by the date shown on your council tax bill, you must contact us to discuss your options. We may be able to arrange a different payment agreement with you, or advise if any help is available.

We follow a very rigid process to collect unpaid money, any missed payment will result in the council taking action to recover the unpaid council tax. The process is as follows:

Process for unpaid council tax
ReminderAction
First reminderThe first time you miss a payment in the current tax year you will be sent a reminder. You must pay the missed instalment within 7 days to bring your account up to date. If you do not make this payment, we will issue you with a summons to appear in court. You will only receive one reminder for a missed instalment before it goes to court.
Second reminderA second reminder is issued if you miss a second instalment in the current tax year, even if the first missed instalment has now been paid. You must pay the missed instalment within 7 days to bring your account up to date. If you do not make this payment, we will issue you with a summons to appear in court. You will only receive one reminder for a missed instalment before it goes to court.
Final reminderA final reminder is issued if you miss a third instalment in the current tax year, even if the first two missed instalments have now been paid.
If you have been issued with a final reminder, we will no longer allow you to pay your council tax in instalments, unless you set up a direct debit.
If you do not pay the entire year's balance or set up a direct debit within 7 days of receiving the final reminder, we will issue you with a summons to appear in court. You will receive only one reminder for a missed instalment before it goes to court.
SummonsIf any reminder notice is ignored and no payment is made, we will send you a summons to appear in court. When a summons is issued, we will add the additional cost of this to the amount you owe. If you pay the entire year's balance along with the additional costs, the matter will not go to court. If you make a partial payment or no payment, the matter will go to court on the date shown on your summons.
CourtIf you ignore a summons and do not pay your account in full, we will ask the court to demand payment from you. This is called a liability order. You do not need to attend court as the case will go ahead without your presence, however if you wish to dispute the case, you are welcome to attend on the date shown on your summons. Once a matter has gone to court, additional costs will be added to the amount you owe to cover the cost of taking you to court.
Liability order

Once a magistrate has issued a liability order against you in court, we are then free to take action against you to collect the unpaid council tax.

Our options include:

  • special arrangement: we agree a new payment schedule with you
  • attachment of earnings: we can collect the unpaid council tax directly from your employer, before you are paid
  • attachment of benefits: we can collect unpaid council tax directly from any benefits you may be claiming
Enforcement AgentsIf, after a liability order has been issued, you still fail to pay your council tax bill through one of the methods listed above, your account will be handed over to the enforcement agents to collect the outstanding balance. The enforcement agents operate independently of the council and will add their own costs to the amount you owe.

Please be aware that this process will be followed for every missed instalment without exception, so it is very important that you speak to us as soon as possible when you become aware that you are unable to make a payment: contact us

Frequently asked questions

Answers to commonly asked questions about council tax

Privacy notice - Revenues

Wiltshire Council has a duty to protect personal information, and will process personal data in accordance with the current Data Protection legislation. This page gives you information about the data we hold about you, how it is used, your rights in relation to this, and the safeguards that are in place to protect it.

Council Tax and your liability

Wiltshire Council, in common with a number of other local authorities, has received a number of letters from individuals who claim not to be subject to council taxation. As a consequence the Council is providing the following information and advice.

The Freeman-of-the-Land movement, and similar groups, broadly believe that they are bound only by statute laws they consent to. Being a 'freeman' does not exempt any person from the liability to pay council tax.

The liability to pay council tax falls under the Local Government Finance Act 1992, and subsequent statutory regulations, which sets out local authorities' rights to demand Council Tax to fund services, and who is liable to pay. This is a statute created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown.

Liability to pay Council Tax is set by The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. This gives local authorities the right to demand Council Tax which is used to fund essential local services.

The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for Council Tax; it is a tax, not a contract.

Council Tax is not optional and not something you consent to, it does not require the existence of a contractual relationship with the council. Any such assertion to the contrary is incorrect and there is no legal basis upon which to make this argument. If you are liable to pay Council Tax, you must make your payments. Anyone who withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them. Should a Council Tax summons be issued, and you would like to dispute the summons on a valid basis, you can choose to attend the court hearing where you will be able to put your case forward to the magistrate(s).

There are many misleading articles and templates available on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax. Anyone relying on these for advice should exercise caution and seek proper legal advice before trying to use them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.

Whilst we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy, false enquiries, that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute, and which use our resources at the expense of other tax payers.

The legislation that covers Council Tax is available from the government website legislation.gov.uk (opens new window) including:

  • Local Government Finance Act 1992
  • Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
  • Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011

Data Subjects' Information and Privacy Notice

 

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