Money Wellness
illustrated town
category iconbills
calendar icon20 Mar 2024

Almost one million households due share of £141 million in overpaid council tax

 808,000 households are due a share of £141 million in overpaid council tax. Money Saving Expert found that the councils holding the largest in overpaid council tax are:

  • Newham owing £9 million
  • North Somerset owing £4 million
  • Manchester owing £3 million
  • Wigan owing £2.9 million
  • Wokingham owing £2.7 million

How do you overpay council tax?

The most common reason for overpaying council tax is when you’ve moved out of an area after paying some or all of your council tax in advance.

It’s important to note that this can happen even when you didn’t pay the whole bill in one payment. This is because council tax is charged annually – from April to April – but it often tends to be paid in 10 instalments from April to January. This means you pay some of your yearly council tax in advance; once you pay your tenth and final instalment in January, you've already paid for the last two months  (February and March) in advance.

If you move out of the area in mid-February, you'll find you’ve overpaid by a month and a half.

You might also overpay if you have a ‘retrospective’ discount applied, or you’ve forgotten to cancel a payment after you moved out.

Contact your council for a refund

The best way to get a refund depends on your old local council.

Check if your old council has an online claims form

 If you google "[council name] council tax refund form", you should be taken to an online claims form, or a page explaining your old council's process for reclaims. 

You’ll probably need your old council tax reference number, which can be found on a previous bill. Once you’ve filled out this form, you don’t need to do anything else.

Call or email your old council

If there isn’t an online form, or you don’t have enough details to fill one out, try calling, emailing or live chatting with your council instead. Contact your old council.

There may be more steps to complete after this, but the council will tell you what you need to do.

Struggling to pay your council tax?

There might be some help available to you:

Check if you're eligible for a council tax discount. Many people qualify for discounts or reductions of between 25% and 100% off their council tax bill, potentially saving £100s – or even £1,000s – each year.

If you think your council tack band is wrong, you’re allowed to challenge it. But be careful, if your band is reassessed, it could be moved to a higher one. Check and challenge your council tax band.

Pay council tax by direct debit as it reduces the chance of overpaying.

What to do if you owe council tax

 It’s important to reach out for help if you’re struggling with council tax bills. Find out what to do if you’re in council tax arrears.

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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