The rules for discounts, disregards, and exemptions on Council Tax vary. So, what are the definitions and why is it important for you to understand the difference?
COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNT: Some people qualify for a discount. Thus, they get to pay a reduced rate of Council Tax.
As a rule, people who live alone get a 25% discount off their Council Tax bill. The same discounted entitlement applies to anyone who is 'treated as living on their own'.
There are several types of Council Tax discount. But, this particular reduction gets defined as the 'single person discount'.
Council Tax disregards are different to standard discounts. A disregard applies to a person or people who live in the property. Occupants who get 'disregarded' become 'invisible' or unobserved under Council Tax rules.
Suppose one of two occupants gets disregarded for Council Tax. The council views it as though the other occupant lives alone. Thus, they get a 25% discount on the bill for the single person discount.
Councils categorize different types of disregards based on the reasons for issuing them. This is important because it has an affect towards Council Tax exemptions. For example, a person with dementia can get disregarded.
Council Tax disregards apply to people with a severe mental impairment. You must meet all the qualifying criteria to be severely mentally impaired. The occupant must have:
Note: In some cases, having dementia may mean you meet all conditions in the criteria. Thus, you would get disregarded under the rules of severe mental impairment.
The rules for Council Tax exemptions apply to properties. They do not apply to people in a direct manner. Being exempt from Council Tax applies to the whole property. Thus, there would be nothing to pay.
There are several reasons why it happens. It could be that the only people occupying the property get disregarded. In cases such as these, councils issue a 'class U exemption' which means no payment is due.
An Example: Barry lives alone and claims the single person discount on his Council Tax bill. Following the diagnosis of vascular dementia he started claiming Attendance allowance. The GP signed the form under the severe mental impairment rules for Barry.
He got disregarded and his house became exempt. Thus, no Council Tax would be due in this example.
Even so, not all disregards result in a property being exempt. In some cases, the disregards result in the person not counting, but the property does.
It can happen if the property gets treated as if it is empty. Thus, it gets charged an empty property rate. A carer meeting certain criteria and living at the property is an example of this type of disregard.
A spouse or a partner does not get a discount or a disregard as a direct result of being a carer. But, the rules change if someone lives with, and cares for, a partner meeting the severe mental impairment criteria. This is providing no one else lives in the property.
In this case, the spouse or partner gets charged Council Tax as a single person. Thus, they get treated as if they live alone.
Even so, carers can get disregarded for Council Tax payments under certain circumstances. It applies to a group of carers who meet all the following criteria:
The person you take care of must also qualify for one of the these benefits:
Note: The claimant may fulfill all the severe mental impairment criteria. But, it is not essential to allow the carer to make the claim.
There is another group of carers who also get disregarded for Council Tax purposes. It applies if you meet all the following criteria:
These two groups of carers should get disregarded for Council Tax purposes. Even so, it is not the same type of disregard as someone who is 'severely mentally impaired'. It does not mean the property will be exempt. So, the carer will pay a reduced Council Tax bill - not get a complete exemption from payment.
An Example: John has Alzheimer's disease. He gets disregarded for Council Tax under the rules of severe mental impairment. John lives in a house with Jackie, his daughter. They also disregard Jackie for Council Tax purposes.
This is because the local authority recognises her as John's carer. Both John and Jackie get disregarded. Thus, this property is being treated as if it is empty. This is according to Council Tax rules and regulations.
In this example, they would qualify for a reduced Council Tax bill.
Note: The rules for carers and disability benefits allow more than one person in the same dwelling to count as a carer. It also includes cases where the caring responsibilities get shared. The extended version of the Council Tax guide explains how it works in detail and who has to pay it.
Council Tax Discounts, Disregards, and Exemptions Definitions in the United Kingdom