When Can You Challenge Your Banding?
The formula that local councils use to assess Council Tax bands is based on domestic property values as of:
But, you can challenge your Council Tax band if it is wrong and you have paid Council Tax on your property for less than six (6) months.
The rules change if you paid Council Tax on your property for more than six (6) months. In this case, a challenge can only be made in specific circumstances, such as if:
- There has been a change to the construction of the property (e.g. split into multiple properties, merged into one, or completely demolished).
- The use of the property has changed (e.g. you started using part of your property for business purposes).
- There is a significant change in the local area (e.g. a developer builds a new supermarket).
Contacting the Valuation Office Agency
You must contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) before you start the process of challenging your Council Tax band.
The first step is explaining to the VOA why you believe there is an error in your banding. Even so, having some evidence to support a claim means they may review it and change the band without you having to challenge it.
Note: It is quicker to send an email to the VOA during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic because they are operating a reduced telephone service.
Steps for Challenging Council Tax Bands
After the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has completed a review of your band, you can make a formal challenge if you do not agree with their decision.
Follow these six steps:
- Use your postcode to check your Council Tax band on the valuation list.
- Select your property and choose the option ‘Do you think this Council Tax band is wrong?’ in the section titled ‘Council Tax band details’.
- Choose the option ‘Check if you can formally challenge your Council Tax band’ from the section titled ‘If you think your Council Tax band is wrong’.
- Answering the questions on the checklist will determine whether you can make a formal challenge.
- Fill in the challenge form after selecting ‘Make a formal challenge against your Council Tax band online’.
- Finally, provide evidence to support your challenge in the section titled ‘Formal challenge details’.
Note: You should use the Scottish Assessors Association website to check your Council Tax band in Scotland.
Evidence Needed to Support a Challenge
If you live in England or Wales, you will need to send the VOA some evidence that supports your challenge about your Council Tax band being wrong.
As a rule, the type of evidence that you can send to the Valuation Office Agency is the addresses of several other properties that have a lower Council Tax band than yours.
But, the other properties must be the same as yours in things like:
- Age, style, and design
- Size (even though the VOA will consider larger properties)
- Type (e.g. detached houses if yours is a detached house)
The properties must also be located in (either):
- The same street or estate (if you are living in a town or city).
- The same village (if you are living in the countryside).
Using Evidence from Property Sale Prices
If you are using evidence from house prices, (e.g. the price that yours or similar properties sold for), the sales must have taken place between:
- 1st of April 1989 and the 31st of March 1993 (for properties in England).
- 1st of April 2001 and the 31st of March 2005 (for properties in Wales).
Note: You can find out how much a property sold for in England or Wales from 1995 onwards (e.g. search sold property prices online).
You can then compare the sale prices to the valuations. The table shows Council Tax band Properties in England and how they were valued in April 1991 (and in April 2003 in Wales in brackets).
- A – Up to £40,000 (£44,000 in Wales)
- B – £40,000 to £52,000 (£44,000 to £65,000)
- C – £52,000 to £68,000 (£65,000 to £91,000)
- D – £68,000 to £88,000 (£91,000 to £123,000)
- E – £88,000 to £120,000 (£123,000 to £162,000)
- F – £120,000 to £160,000 (£162,000 to £223,000)
- G – £160,000 to £320,000 (£223,000 to £324,000)
- H – £320,000+ (£324,000 to £424,000)
- I – £424,000+
If you establish that the property sale prices differ from the Council Tax bands that the properties are actually in, you should send the information to the VOA, including the:
- Sale prices (including proof in England, such as a solicitor’s letter or the sales contract)
- Dates they were sold
Important: The VOA will not accept general website data about average house prices (e.g. from the Nationwide House Price Index, Rightmove, Zoopla).
After Making a Council Tax Band Challenge
The Valuation Office Agency will send you their decision within four (4) months after you make a challenge. The outcome will be (either):
- A change in your banding (e.g. the local council will revise your Council Tax bill and then make the relevant adjustments to your payments).
- Details informing you why they cannot change your band.
Disagreeing with the VOA Decision
If you made your formal challenge in England, and dispute the VOA’s decision, you can make an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. Use the forms on the Valuation Tribunal Service website (or Valuation Tribunal for Wales).
Even though the Valuation Tribunal works ‘independently’ of the VOA, it is a free service. But, you would need to pay for your own costs. They can provide further guidance on what steps you need to take for the hearing and how to prepare for it.
The appeal must take place within three (3) months of receiving the decision from the VOA. Use the application for an extension of the time limit for making an appeal if yours is late.
Note: If you get an agreement from the tribunal, the VOA will change your banding and the local council will go ahead and update your bill. You can also contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for help with your property’s Council Tax band or the rateable value of properties (e.g. if you are paying business rates).