Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Claiming Your Council Tax Exemption

I wrote previously about ''Council Tax Exemption for Students and Spouses''. The next thing you need to know is that you are required to inform the council of your exemption status. They will not automatically know that you are a student or, if you have a spouse, that your spouse has no recourse to public funds. It is your responsibility to communicate with them. If you do not, you will likely begin to receive scary notices some time in the spring indicating that you owe the council a lot of money.

The best course of action, is of course, to settle the matter as soon as possible. However, if you wait till the last minute (which I did!), you should still be able to get it all sorted. Here's what you should do:

1. As soon as you secure accommodation, inform your landlord or the letting agency of your exemption status. As stated previously, they will probably not know that your spouse is also exempt from the Council Tax and will try to convince you that, while you may be eligible for a reduced rate, the spouse will still be required to pay something. They are wrong. If they don't believe you, send them this link Council Tax: A guide to your bill (also included in the previous post). Once you have convinced them, they may be able to help you in your communications with the council or let you know what to do next. If not:

2. Write to your local council informing them of your exemption status. Most have email addresses and are willing to communicate, at least partially, in this way. It may take a couple of weeks for them to respond to your query. If no email address is available, send them a letter.

3. In response to your correspondence, they should eventually send you a letter requesting that you either send them your passport by mail or that you take it in person to the council. Copies are not usually accepted. They may also require a letter from your University confirming your student status. This can usually be obtained by phoning your Registrar's Office.

4. Once you have either mailed these things or gone in person, they should grant you the official exemption status and you should have nothing further to do.

5. If you have waited till the last minute and have already begun to receive bills, don't be surprised if you receive several more bills after you have been granted your exemption status. It often takes several weeks for them to update their systems. If worried, best to phone the council to confirm.

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