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Do Students Pay Council Tax?

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 17th March 2021

Working out whether you’re eligible for council tax exemption can be a confusing process. That’s why Latest Deals has put together this handy guide to help you figure out whether students pay council tax.

What is council tax? 

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Council tax is an annual fee that all homeowners and renters must pay. Normally, this annual fee is split between ten monthly payments. Council tax goes towards your local council for the services it provides.

There are a variety of council tax discounts and exemptions on offer. If you’re a student, we’ll explain whether you qualify for a council tax exemption in this guide. 

How a council tax bill is calculated

Council tax is split into bands, depending on the type of property you live in. The council tax band you’re in determines how much council tax you’ll pay each year. 

Band A is the cheapest council tax and Band H the most expensive.

For more information on council tax bands, read our explanation guide.

Do students pay council tax?

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Households that are only occupied by full-time students are exempt from paying council tax. 

To qualify as a full-time student, everyone in the property must:

  • Be on a course that lasts at least one year.
  • Be on a course that involves at least 21 hours of study each week.

If everyone in your property isn’t a full-time student, then the property will still be charged council tax. However, the full-time students will be ‘disregarded’ which means that the council tax bill will be lower.

This means that only the non-students will be liable to pay the council tax bill. This is something to keep in mind when choosing your housemates. If some people aren’t students and have to pay for the council tax, make sure it won’t create a rift between the non-students and students.

Do full-time students pay council tax?

Full-time students that are on a course for at least one year and study for at least 21 hours a week are exempt from paying council tax. If everyone in the property is a full-time student and you still receive a council tax bill, you can apply for exemption. We explain how to in this guide. 

Do part-time students pay council tax?

Part-time students do still have to pay council tax but they may qualify for a reduction. Read our guide on council tax discounts to find out how to get money off.

Do students pay council tax if they live with non-students?

If you’re a full-time student, you don’t have to pay council tax. However, the property will be charged council tax if not everyone living there is exempt. This means that the non-students will have to pay the council tax bill as full-time students are exempt. 

If there’s only one non-student living in the property, they will be eligible for a single person council tax discount of 25%. This is because everyone else living there is a full-time student and so are disregarded.

Do students pay council tax during summer?

It can be confusing working out whether students need to pay council tax during the summer months. You need to find out how long you’ll be registered on your course. 

Council tax exemption for full-time students begins the day your course starts until it ends. This includes periods when you’re away on holiday or aren’t studying in the summer. 

You shouldn’t have to pay council tax in the summer as a full-time student. If you have, then you could be entitled to a refund. You can contact your local council to find out.

Do students pay council tax in Scotland?

The same rules apply in Scotland as they do in England. Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax and properties only occupied by students won’t be charged council tax.

Do students pay council tax when renting?

Properties are exempt from council tax if all occupants are full-time students, even if it’s a rented property. If a rented property is occupied by students and non-students, only the non-students will be required to pay council tax.

Do postgraduate students pay council tax?

At the end of your final year as an undergraduate, you’ll have to pay for council tax during the summer months. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting postgraduate study in the next term. This is because, during the summer gap, you technically aren’t a student anymore and so are liable to pay council tax.

You could solve this problem by moving back home for the summer. You’ll be exempt from council tax when you start your postgraduate course.

Do I have to pay council tax if I’m taking time off my course?

Some full-time students might have to take time off their course due to illness or family, for example. 

You can suspend your course but remain registered as you intend to pick it back up. This means that you’re still regarded as a student and won’t have to pay council tax.

How to apply for student council tax exemption

How do you apply for student council tax exemption? Here are some of the steps you might have to take, depending on your university and local council:

1. Check if you qualify for student council tax exemption

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To qualify for council tax exemption, you need to be classed as a ‘disregarded person’ by the council. The following students count as ‘disregarded’:

  • Full-time students.
  • Studying a course (up to A Levels) and under 20-years-old.
  • Under 25-years-old and undergoing specific training.
  • The ‘overseas partner’ of a full-time student (child, spouse or civil partner who isn’t legally allowed to work in the UK.)
  • Student nurse. 
  • An apprentice working for a qualification (earning less than £195 a week.)

There are more unique reasons why you might be disregarded so make sure you check the government’s council tax page if you’re unsure.

2. Phone your local council

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Depending on how your local council operates they might simply ask that you ring them up and provide the following information:

  • Your name.
  • Student number.
  • University course. 

They might be able to arrange your student council tax exemption on the phone. 

3. Provide a ‘certificate of student status’ 

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Not all councils will offer exemption after a straightforward phone call. Some councils might ask for a ‘certificate of student status’ which proves that you’re a full-time student. 

A Certificate of Student Status isn’t hard to get hold of. You can ask your university for one, usually from the admissions office. You can then post the certificate to your local council.

4. Apply for council tax exemption online

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Depending on how tech-savvy your university is, you might be able to apply for council tax exemption online. Some universities have an online system that you can log into. This system will automatically create a letter and send it to the council, sorting out your council tax exemption for you. 

As you can see, it depends on your local council and university as to how quick and efficient the council tax exemption process is. If you’re struggling to find your local council, you can use the government’s handy tool by simply typing in your postcode.

What to do if you're wrongly charged council tax as a student

You might find that you’ve been wrongly sent a council tax bill, even if your property is occupied only by full-time students. What you need to do is write, email or phone your local council to let them know that you shouldn’t be paying council tax.

You might have to send evidence that you’re a full-time student, in that case, you can follow the steps we’ve listed above. 

The council must respond within two months and if you disagree with their decision, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal
We explain more about challenging council tax in this guide.

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