860,000 households owed council tax refund – how to check if you’re eligible

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UK one pound coins placed on a Council Tax Bill
More than £150 million is thought to be owed to UK householders in unclaimed council tax rebates. (Getty)

Some 860,000 households are owed council tax refunds worth a total of £150m, an investigation by Money Saving Expert has revealed.

Unclaimed rebates most commonly arise when a householder has moved out of the area but had already paid their council tax bill upfront.

If the account is not closed by the holder, or they did not pay by direct debit, the council may struggle to find them and the account will have been closed in credit.

A freedom of information request by Money Saving Expert, which gathered data from 364 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales, found that 38 UK councils each owe more than £1m.

Rebates are also issued if a home is re-banded to a lower band and tax has already been paid at the higher rate.

Gareth Shaw, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "While many councils do make an effort to track down those who have cash lying unclaimed, they are still staggeringly sitting on £150m worth of overpayments.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak hosts a press conference in the Downing Street Briefing Room on February 3, 2022 in London, England. As the energy regulator, OFGEM, announced a domestic energy price cap rise of 54 percent earlier today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the Energy Bill Rebate to help ease the cost of living burden. Council tax rebates of £150 for 80% of households and £200 off energy bills in October form £9.1 billion treasury package of support.  (Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak in February announced a £150 rebate for all households in bands A-D as part of a plan to ease the UK's cost of living crisis. (Getty)

"You're less likely to have overpaid if you use direct debit, but it's not impossible, so if you've moved home it's worth checking if you might be due – especially if you changed local authority area and paid by cash, cheque or standing order instead. Each council has its own way of processing claims, but some have an easy online form.

"But don't just call on the off chance you might be due – do a little bit of digging so you don't clog up councils' switchboards for those who need essential and urgent support.

"Check your previous statements and bills to see if council tax you paid upfront covers a period after you moved and if you closed your account in credit."

Here's how you can find out if you are owed a council tax refund.

Houses in England with typical red bricks at sunset - Main street in a new estate with typical British houses on the side - Real estate and buildings concepts in UK
More than 860,000 are owed council tax refunds. (Getty)

Claiming back council tax

The best way to check if you're due a rebate, and the procedure of claiming it, varies from council to council. You can call, email or live chat with your council to ask if you're due a refund.

The Department for Levelling Up told Yahoo News UK it recommends anyone who thinks they may be entitled to a refund contact their local council. Find your local council's contact details on Gov.uk.

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Some councils may offer an online council tax refund form to complete. When filling in the form you will need to provide evidence that you have overpaid, and many require you to have your old council tax reference number.

If your council does not have an online form you will need to call or email them to request an investigation into your closed account.

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