Council Tax and International Students

Council Tax and International Students
Another important area for consideration for International Students is Council Tax which is set by local government authorities in all parts of Great Britain to pay for basic day-to-day services that they provide, for example rubbish collection, the police force and repairs to roads, public buildings etc. It is mainly determined by the value of the house, flat or other accommodation in which you live. The Council Tax bill for a particular house is dependent on the value of the property and the amount of people who are 18 or over, living there.

Some properties are ‘exempt’, which means that the residents are not required to pay Council Tax for that particular property. In other cases, certain individuals (such as students both domestic and international) are exempt when working out the number of adults actually residing in the property which may lead to a reduction in the amount owed.
Individual local authorities will determine what proof of student status is required but most universities provide a specific letter to confirm your enrollment at the university. Most local authorities will generally accept this letter of confirmation. You may be required to request this certificate if you are not given it but all institutes are required to provide it when asked.
If you are due to pay council tax after you finish your studies but refuse to do so, the authority requesting it can and often will begin legal proceedings in order to recover the amount you owe. If you believe that the amount requested is incorrect, if you have difficulty paying or have allowed the owed amount to keep building up to the point that you owe a lot of money, you can contact the authorities in order to try and arrange a more reasonable payment schedule.
‘Council Tax benefit’ is available for people on low incomes who are are required to pay the tax due to their residential status but can not afford it, but most full-time students whether british or international are not eligible for these benefits. If your UK identity card ('Biometric Residence Permit' or 'Identity Card for Foreign Nationals') or passport has a ‘no recourse to public funds' condition, claiming or trying to claim Council Tax benefit could mean that you are breaching immigration rules because this means you are unable to claim benefits.
The Council Tax bill only takes into consideration individuals who are 18 or older and ‘solely or mainly’ residing in that particular property, short-term stays will not usually be counted but if you are concerned which category you would fall into you should contact the authority. If you are only residing in the United Kingdom for a small period (for example, you are on a short course, and the total period of time you spend in the UK will be just a few months), the local authority may accept that you are not ‘solely or mainly resident’ so it is definitely worth contacting your local authority to confirm your status. In this particular circumstance, the Council Tax bill for where you stay would still not be affected but you would not be required to pay it personally. Local authorities make the final decisions on a sole or main residence on a case by case basis.

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