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Council tax explained

Ways to pay and what do to if your circumstances change or you have difficulty paying.

How council tax is calculated

Council tax is divided into eight property bands designated A to H. The bands are related to the value of property in which you live. This valuation is based on property prices in 1991, but there is a commitment from the government to update these valuations.

It is based on the concept that a household will normally consist of two adults. Half of the charge relates to the property itself and the other half relates to the occupiers. Whilst the district or borough council is responsible for collecting the tax on behalf of the local authorities in Dorset, it has no responsibility for setting the council tax levels for Dorset County Council, parish and town councils, the Dorset Police Authority or the Dorset Fire Authority. The total charge you pay contains a proportion for each of these authorities.

Your total bill is made up of different elements from the county council, your district or borough council, the Dorset Police Authority, the Dorset Fire Authority and, in some cases, town or parish councils depending on where you live.

Every year these organisations calculate the total budget they will require to run their services. With the exception of parish councils, each is given a sum of money from central government, but they have to find the shortfall between this and their budget needs by raising what we know as the council tax.

Discounts, exemptions and reductions

A range of discounts and exemptions are available to take account of the number of occupiers and their status in respect of their liability to pay council tax. Reductions are also available for the disabled. Help is also available through council tax support for people on low incomes.

Encouraging council taxpayers to promptly provide accurate information

Councils are taking action to help ensure that their council tax records are accurate and up to date.

This work includes the councils working in partnership to remind council taxpayers of their responsibility to:

  • claim discounts only where there is a valid entitlement
  • promptly provide the council with accurate information
  • promptly notify the council where they have experienced a change in circumstances which might affect their entitlement to a discount

We acknowledge that the majority of our council taxpayers provide the right information as quickly as possible. However, we also find that some council taxpayers choose not to provide accurate information unless there is an incentive for them to do so. The councils have, therefore, decided to charge the following financial penalty for those people who do not provide the right information and falsely over claim.

  • a penalty of £70 can be charged if the council taxpayer fails to supply information (or deliberately supplies incorrect information) which affects their liability or entitlement to discount or exemption
  • a penalty of £70 can be charged to a resident, owner or managing agent who fails to respond to a written request to supply information which would help the Council establish the person liable for the Council Tax.  A penalty of £280 can be applied for failure to respond to a second written request for the same information

Customers are reminded that if they experience a change in circumstances which might affect their entitlement to a discount, they should let their local council know straight away.

  • Pay council tax

    There are a number of ways to pay your council tax. Each council offers different council tax payment options.

  • Moving home

    What to do about your council tax when you move home.

  • Change of circumstances

    Your entitlement to housing benefit and/or council tax benefit is based on the information on your application form. Your entitlement will change if your circumstances change.

  • Non-payment of council tax

    If you have difficulty in paying please contact us straight away in order that the problem may be discussed and if appropriate a mutually acceptable arrangement made.

  • Who pays?

    There will only be one council tax bill per property.

  • Refunds

    Information on council tax refunds.

  • Appeals

    Under certain circumstances you may be able to appeal to your council regarding your council tax.

  • How is my home valued?

    Most dwellings (whether rented or owned and whether lived in or not) are subject to the council tax.

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