Council Tax - explanatory notes

Council tax explanatory notes

These notes form part of your Council Tax Demand Notice

Council Tax valuation bands and valuation appeals

Council Tax valuation bands

Most dwellings are subject to the Council Tax. There is one bill per dwelling, whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette, mobile home or houseboat, whether it is owned or rented and occupied or unoccupied. Each domestic property has a valuation band allocated by the local Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which is part of HMRC, based on open market capital value as at 1 April 1991.

Your Council Tax demand or exemption notice will show which band has been allocated to your property.

Valuation band Range of values
A Up to and including £40,000
B £40,001 - £52,000
C £52,001 - £68,000
D £68,001 - £88,000
E £88,001 - £120,000
F £120,001 - £160,000
G £160,001 - £320,000
H More than £320,000

Valuation appeals

You can look up your Council Tax band on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website and check if you can request a review. 

You can also contact the VOA online or call 03000 501 501. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm. If you don’t agree with the banding, you have limited rights of appeal.

Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment of Council Tax in the meantime as recovery action will continue. If your appeal is successful the VOA will tell us of the change direct and you will be entitled to a full refund of overpaid Council Tax.

Discounts and Exemptions

A full Council Tax charge is based on two adults being resident in a property as their sole or main residence. For Council Tax purposes, an adult is any person aged 18 or over irrespective of their personal circumstances surrounding their income or education.

Single Person Discount

If there is only one person over the age of 18 and it is their sole or main residence, then a single person discount of 25 per cent can be applied for. The discount cannot be awarded for the same person at more than one property or to persons who would usually live together as partners but live apart due to work purposes or whilst an adult on holiday.

Second Homes

Dwellings which are not occupied as a person’s sole or main residence and are furnished will be classed as a second home for Council Tax purposes. Full Council Tax is chargeable for a second home. If your home is provided by and paid for by your employer as part of your contract of employment and the property is within the curtilage of your employment, you may be entitled to a 50 per cent discount.


From 1 April 2014 annexes which are occupied by a relative of the person in the main house and are not exempt from Council Tax are able to apply for a 50 per cent reduction.

Care leavers

From 1 April 2020, certain Care Leavers aged 18 to 25 years old may be entitled to a discretionary discount which is awarded after all statutory discounts, exemptions and local council tax support. Further details on our website.

Discounts for unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings

Dwellings that are unoccupied and unfurnished will receive a 25 per cent discount for a maximum of six months, except those that require or are undergoing structural repair, where a 25 per cent discount will apply for a maximum of 12 months. In both cases, once the period of discount has expired, full Council Tax will be payable. The period of discount is not re-started by a change in ownership or liability.

Empty Homes Premium

Dwellings that have remained unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more may be subject to an additional premium. Until 31 March 2019 the premium was 50 per cent, this increased to 100 per cent premium from 1 April 2019. The two year period will include any period where an empty dwelling discount has been awarded.

Disregarded adults

If only one adult lives in the dwelling (as their main home) the Council Tax bill can be reduced by 25 per cent.

People in the following groups do not count towards the number of adults resident in the dwelling:

  • full time students
  • student nurses
  • apprentices and youth training trainees
  • patients resident in hospital
  • people being looked after in a care home
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • people staying in certain hospitals or night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year olds who have just left school
  • carers, working for low pay, or caring for someone who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • members of visiting forces and certain international headquarters
  • members of religious communities
  • people in prison (except those for non- payment of Council Tax or a fine)

If you think you may be entitled to a discount you should contact

If your bill indicates that a discount has been allowed, you must advise us of any change of circumstances which affects your entitlement to that discount within 21 days. If you fail to do so you may be required to pay a penalty and/or be subject to prosecution

Council Tax exemptions

Some properties are exempt from Council Tax, depending upon the liable person’s circumstances and the status of the property. You may be asked to provide supporting evidence to prove your claim. Examples of dwellings that are exempt are:

  • unoccupied and owned by a charity (up to six months)
  • unoccupied due to receiving or providing care elsewhere
  • unoccupied as the last person responsible is detained in prison
  • unoccupied following the death of the person responsible for Council Tax and exempt up to six months after date of probate
  • unoccupied due to repossessed by a mortgage lender
  • occupied solely as student households
  • occupied solely by those who are responsible for Council Tax and are severely mentally impaired
  • occupied solely by under 18’s
  • occupied granny annexe
  • foreign diplomats and visiting forces

Section 13a discounts

Under Section 13a of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the council may reduce the amount of Council Tax you are required to pay in individual cases or in a class of cases where national discounts and exemptions do not apply.

What happens if I no longer qualify for a Council Tax discount, disregard or exemption?

You must tell the Council Tax section within 21 days if you believe that you are no longer entitled to the reduction or face a penalty of up to £280.

If we find out later that you were not entitled to a reduction or to the amount of reduction you were awarded, we are required by law to add this amount to your account and we will send you a revised Council Tax bill.

People with disabilities

If you, or someone who lives with you, need a room or an extra bathroom or kitchen or use a wheelchair within your property to meet special needs arising from a disability you may be entitled to a reduced Council Tax bill. If you qualify you will be billed at a band lower than the band your property is actually in. The reduction for a band A is 1/9th of the band D charge.

Council Tax Reduction (CTR) Scheme

If you are on a low income you can apply for help with your Council Tax under Cherwell’s local CTR scheme, which has been approved by members.

To apply you need to complete our application form and provide evidence of all of your household’s income and savings. Generally, CTR is only paid from when you make your application.

If there is another adult in your household who is not your partner and that person is on a low income then you may be entitled to a Council Tax Reduction (Second Adult Rebate) based on that adult’s income. The maximum reduction is 25 per cent of your Council Tax.

As the Council Tax payer you need to make the application and provide evidence of their income. 

CTR scheme information and application form.  You can also get an application form by telephoning 01295 227002.


Please contact us straight away if you think that:

  • It is not your responsibility to pay the bill and it should go to someone else
  • The property should be exempt or a discount awarded or be in receipt of council tax reduction scheme
  • The Council Tax hasn’t been calculated properly

Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment of your Council Tax. If your appeal is successful, you will be entitled to a refund of any overpaid tax. Once we have reviewed our decision, we will write to you. If you are still dissatisfied, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. Details of this will be included in our decision.

All enquiries concerning your bill or these notes:

What happens if you can't pay?

If any payment is not received by the due date, the full amount for the year may become immediately payable following the issue of one reminder notice. This could also lead to a summons being issued for proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, with costs being added to your account. It is therefore important that you pay your instalments on time.

If you have difficulty in paying any instalment, please contact the council before you fall into arrears. It may be possible to make a different arrangement for payment that you can afford. Further information on the recovery process


Council Tax is usually paid in 10 instalments from April to January. New rules introduced by the Government allow customers to pay in 12 instalments if they wish. If you would like to take up this option please contact us.

Budget and Precept information

Details of each major preceptor’s budget can be found on their websites:-

Adult Social Care

The Secretary of State made an offer to adult social care authorities. ("Adult social care authorities" are local authorities which have functions under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014, namely county councils in England, district councils for an area in England for which there is no county council, London borough councils, the Common Council of the City of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.)

The offer was the option of an adult social care authority being able to charge an additional “precept” on its Council Tax without holding a referendum, to assist the authority in meeting expenditure on adult social care from the financial year 2016/17. It was originally made in respect of the financial years up to and including 2019-20. If the Secretary of State chooses to renew this offer in respect of a particular financial year, this is subject to the approval of the House of Commons.