Do students pay council tax?

Do students pay council tax? Well, not always. Here’s when students won’t pay council tax, and what to do if you’re wrongly charged.

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If you’re a student, you may be wondering whether students pay council tax. Well, the answer’s a little murky. Here’s what you should know. 


What is council tax?

Every household in the UK, including rented properties, pays council tax. The payments are made in monthly instalments, and they go towards local services like street cleaning and waste disposal.  

The value of your property determines your council tax band, or rate – not every household pays the same amount. 

To be clear, landlords aren’t usually responsible for council tax. It’s the tenants’ responsibility. 

Do students pay council tax?

It depends: 

  • Full-time students don’t pay council tax. You’re a full-time student if your course lasts at least one academic year, and you study 21 hours or more per week. 
  • Part-time students (i.e. those who study 20 hours or less per week) will pay council tax.
  • You won’t pay council tax if you’re a student nurse, or you’re 18 or 19 and in full-time education. Under 25s who receive Skills Funding Agency support are also exempt.

So, if it’s a full-time student household, there’s no council tax bill. But if you’re a part-time student living in a property with full-time students, you’ll be expected to cover the whole bill – although you’ll get a single person discount of 25%.  

Do students pay council tax during the summer holidays?

This is where it gets a little tricky: 

  • If your full-time undergrad course lasts more than a year, then you won’t usually pay council tax during the summer. 
  • If you’ve finished your undergrad course and you’re about to start a postgrad degree, you’ll pay council tax during the summer. Why? Because the undergrad course is finished, so you’re not a student anymore. You can claim an exemption again once your postgrad begins.  

If you decide to take a gap year during your degree, check with your uni to see whether you’ll need to pay council tax for this period.


How can I apply for a student council tax exemption?

Contact your local council and check what information they need. If required, your uni can provide you with proof of student status.

Or, you can always simply ask your uni for help with the process.  

What if I’m wrongfully charged council tax?

Write to your local council and tell them why you’re not liable to pay the council tax. The council must respond to you within two months.  

  • If the council agrees you shouldn’t pay council tax, they’ll confirm this in writing.
  • However, if they claim you should be paying council tax, they’ll explain the reasons why.

You can appeal the decision if you’re unhappy with the council’s response. However, there’s no guarantee the outcome will change. 


Do all students pay council tax? No. It all depends on whether or not you’re a full-time student. 

If you’re not in full-time education, but you’re living with full-time students, remember that you’re responsible for the council tax bill, although you could get a single person’s discount. It’s definitely something to bear in mind when you’re choosing your flatmates.

Finally, do you want to avoid council tax while you’re waiting to start your postgrad? Consider moving back home for the summer. 

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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