Council tax is a local tax on residential property set and collected by all 32 local authorities in Scotland.

You have to pay council tax regardless of whether the property you live in is owned by you or rented and the property can be a house, bungalow, annexe, flat, maisonette, part of a house in multiple occupation, mobile home or even a houseboat.

Your council tax bill in Scotland usually includes a sum for both the domestic water supply and public sewerage provided by Scottish Water and is collected by the local authority with the council tax.

Each property is placed in one of eight valuation bands, although the amount you’ll be expected to pay on your property in one of these bands will depend on your local authority.

Council tax is based on the assumption there are at least two adults aged 18 or over living in the property. If there are fewer than two adults living in the property, you can apply for a discount. So if you’re aged over 18 and living alone, your council tax bill will be discounted by 25 per cent.

If you or someone else in your household is disabled and you have to live in a larger property as a result, you could be entitled to a discount under the Disabled Band Reduction Scheme.

Likewise, some people are disregarded, which means the council tax will be calculated as if they do not live there.

These include:

  • People who don’t live in the property as their sole or main residence
  • Those aged under 18
  • Anyone aged 18 for whom child benefit is payable
  • Anyone aged 18 or 19 who is in full-time non-advanced education
  • Students
  • Apprentices training for a qualification accredited by an approved authority and earning not more than £195 per week
  • Youth trainees aged under 25 with individual training plans
  • Certain classes of live-in care workers
  • Certain people living in care homes, hostels or hospitals

This isn’t an exhaustive list. More information on people disregarded from council tax calculations can be obtained by contacting Citizens Advice Scotland or your local authority.If you don’t pay your monthly council tax installments, you will find yourself in arrears and not paying your council tax can have serious consequences.

Council tax is divided into 10 equal monthly installments, but if you miss one and don't pay that installment within seven days, you will lose your right to have the payment spread throughout the year.

If you miss three installments within a single financial period, you automatically lose your right to pay in installments and will need to pay the remaining amount in full.

The final stage is that you could be sent a summary warrant by sheriff officers. If you still haven’t paid what you owe within 14 days, sheriff officers have powers to obtain the money from you by, for example, freezing your bank account or removing items from your home to sell them.

If you find yourself in arrears, don’t panic – but equally, don’t bury your head in the sand and hope your local authority forgets about you. It’s important to contact your council or external agency acting on its behalf as soon as possible to talk through your income, financial commitments and any of other debts you may have, particularly if you owe the local authority any other money such as rent.

Other organisations which can help with council tax matters include: