MONEY Saving Expert Martin Lewis has revealed that thousands of Brits are paying too much council tax.
The personal finance guru says that up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland are in the wrong band.
Speaking on This Morning, he explained two different ways people can check and challenge their council tax banding.
Those who are in the wrong band could be in for a rebate backdated as far as 1993, as well as paying less in future.
It comes as ministers approved council tax hikes in April of at least 4.5 per cent in England and 10 per cent in Scotland and Wales.
On average, households will be hit with council tax bills of £75.60 a month from April, researchers found.
STEP 1: THE NEIGHBOURS CHECK
Martin’s first suggested check is to find how much your neighbours in similar or identical properties are paying.
He said you don’t have to ask them as it’s public information.
Simply check the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) page of the Government’s website if you live in England.
For those in Scotland, check the Scottish Assessors Association website.
First check your band, and then your neighbours’.
STEP 2: THE VALUATION CHECK
The second check – the “valuation check” – is a bit more complex, according to Lewis.
It involves working out how much your home was worth in 1991 as that’s when the current council tax bands were established.
He said you need to find your current price and convert that into the equivalent money 28 years ago – and there’s free tools online to do this for you.
If you bought your house after 1991, you can use its price and date of sale to do this.
For those who bought their home before then or are renting you’ll need to figure out the estimated value.
This information can’t be used when you challenge, but it enables you to check out various house prices on your street and test whether you’re on the right track.
Lewis said: “If both of those checks indicate you are in too high a band, then I would complain to the Valuation Office Agency.
“Do not just do it with one check, for the simple reason you can’t just ask for your band to be lowered, you can ask for it to be looked at.
“If you are in the wrong band it’ll be dropped. They make think you’re in too low a band and put you up.”
He added that if they find out your neighbours are in too low a band, they’ll increase their bills too.
This is why you must do both checks first, according to Lewis.
It’s also important to be careful if you’ve added an extension or something that increases your property’s value.
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There are other ways to pay less council tax too.
You could be due a council tax refund, as more than 1.7million are owed an average of £137 each, new research has found.
But be aware of a council tax scam where fraudsters try to con you into handing over your bank details.