Council Tax explained - How does Council Tax work?

Published: 13 March 2024

Council Tax is made up of a property element and a personal element. The property element is a tax on dwellings where people live, including domestic properties such as houses, flats and living accommodation in part of a commercial property, for example, a flat above a shop.

Each dwelling is given a value or a band and the council sets the charge against each band. The personal element of the tax relates to the assumption that two adults live in a property.

Discounts are available, for example, if only one adult lives in a property. The amount you pay may also be reduced if you are on a low income or you have a disability.


Council Tax is calculated based on the assumption that two adults live in the property. A 25% discount may be awarded if there is one resident in the property.

Find out about other available discounts

Empty properties not shown in the following list will attract a full charge. From 1 April 2024, any properties empty between 1 to 5 years, not shown in the list will attract a premium charge of 100% (200% payable), irrespective of any change in ownership.

From 1 April 2021 properties empty and unfurnished for at least 5 years but less than 10 years will attract an additional premium charge of 200% ( 300% payable). Properties empty and unfurnished for at least 10 years will attract an additional premium charge of 300% (400% payable) irrespective of any change in ownership.

From 1 April 2025, empty and furnished properties, which do not meet the criteria for an Exemption will attract an additional premium charge of 100% (200% payable).


Certain occupied and unoccupied properties may be exempt from Council Tax if they fall into one of the categories listed:

Unoccupied properties:

  • CLASS B: owned by a charity and has been unoccupied for a period of less than 6 months.
  • CLASS D: left unoccupied by a person in detention (except for non-payment of Council Tax).
  • CLASS E: left unoccupied by a person who is a permanent resident in a hospital or nursing home.
  • CLASS F: where the last occupier was a sole adult who has died and probate has either yet to be granted or has been granted for a period of less than 6 months. Please note, exemption only applies if the deceased is the liable person for Council Tax.
  • CLASS G: occupation is prohibited by law.
  • CLASS H: unoccupied awaiting occupation by a minister of religion.
  • CLASS I: unoccupied by a person receiving care elsewhere.
  • CLASS J: unoccupied by a person providing care elsewhere.
  • CLASS K: unoccupied property where the owner is a student, who has left to live and study elsewhere.
  • CLASS L: unoccupied repossessed property.
  • CLASS Q: left unoccupied by a bankrupt.
  • CLASS R: unoccupied caravan pitch or boat mooring.
  • CLASS T: unoccupied, but forms a part of another dwelling which may not be let separately, i.e. a granny flat or annexe.

Occupied properties

  • CLASS M: student hall of residence.
  • CLASS N: occupied solely by students.
  • CLASS O and P: armed forces, barracks, married quarters and accommodation for visiting forces.
  • CLASS S: occupied only by a person(s) under the age of 18.
  • CLASS U: occupied solely by severely mentally impaired person(s).
  • CLASS V: occupied by diplomats and their non-British spouse.
  • CLASS W: a separate unit within a property, occupied by a dependant relative of the Council Tax payer who is resident in the main connected property i.e. granny flat or annexe.

You must tell us:

  • if you receive a bill and disagree that you are liable to pay. Please return it right away telling us why you consider it to be incorrect
  • if you think you may be entitled to a discount or exemption and none is shown on the bill
  • if a discount or exemption is shown on your bill and you no longer qualify for it. Failure to do so could lead to a financial penalty being made against you.

If you tell us that there has been a change to your property and wish to apply for a discount or exemption, we will arrange for one of our inspectors to visit it and check. We will not accept a backdated claim that a property qualifies for a reduction where Wirral Council has not been given the opportunity to inspect the property, or you are unable to provide satisfactory evidence to support your claim.

The council has the power to reduce Council Tax where national discounts and exemptions do not apply.

Each case will be viewed on its merits, and we will only consider using this power in exceptional circumstances.

People with disabilities

If you, or someone living with you, needs a room, an extra room due to a disability (for example, extra bathroom), or uses a wheelchair indoors, you may be entitled to a reduced Council Tax bill. This reduction aims to ensure that people with disabilities do not pay more Council Tax on account of their disability. If you qualify, your bill may be reduced.

If your home has special fixtures for a resident with a disability and you believe that they reduce the value of your home and this has not been taken into consideration in your valuation band, you should email the council for a DPR application at

Find out more or apply for a reduction

Council Tax Appeal System

You may appeal against a Council Tax decision if you do not agree with it. 

Find out how you can appeal against a Council Tax decision

Can I appeal against my property’s valuation band?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) values domestic properties for Council Tax. This valuation is used to set your Council Tax band. You might need to contact the VOA if you think your Council Tax band is wrong.

You can find out more about when you can challenge your band and what you need to do on the GOV.UK website. If you challenge your band, you must continue to pay Council Tax at your current band until your appeal is decided.

You can contact the VOA via the GOV.UK website. If you are unable to use the online service, you can also contact the VOA on 03000 501 501 or email

Appeals against banding are restricted to:

  • new taxpayers who can appeal within six months of becoming liable
  • new properties brought onto the Valuation List
  • properties which change to or from domestic use
  • properties which have a material increase such as an extension and a change of ownership happens
  • properties which have a material decrease such as demolition of part of the property

Council Tax Support

The Council Tax Support scheme is designed to help people on Department for Work Pension benefits or who have low paid jobs or low incomes. Its aim is to also help and protect the most vulnerable in our community, our elderly and our disabled or long term sick, in line with government guidelines.

The key features of Wirral’s scheme are:

  • support up to a maximum of 88% (except for people who fall into a protected group or are pensioners)
  • a standard non-dependant deduction of £15.10 per week (standard deductions for protected working age claimants and pensioners range from £4.90 to £15.10 per week based on the non-dependants income)
  • Capital amount limited to £6,000 (£16,000 for pensioners and those in protected groups)
  • Second Adult Rebate only for pensioners
  • a backdated provision of up to 3 months for exceptional circumstances

The amount of Council Tax Support you receive depends upon:

  • any income and savings you may have
  • the number of people who live in your property
  • the Council Tax band of your property

If you are eligible for Council Tax Support, the amount awarded will be shown on your new bill. Your bill and the amount to pay may also alter if your circumstances change. You must tell us immediately of any change to your income, savings or the number of people in your household changes. If you make a new successful claim for Universal Credit and are liable for Council Tax your award notice  will be used to work out any entitlement to Council Tax Support.

Apply for Council Tax Support 

You must carry on paying the instalments shown on your Council Tax bill whilst an application is being considered. If your application is successful, you will be sent a new bill with revised instalments.

Care Leavers Discount

If you have been in the care of Wirral Council (for instance you lived in a care home or were fostered) and are leaving care, you may be entitled to a reduction in Council Tax until you reach the age of 25. The amount of reduction you’re entitled to may be up to 100% depending on the number of people who live with you.

The reduction will apply from 1 April 2018 or whenever you became liable to pay Council Tax if after this date.

Fraud hotline

Do you know or suspect that someone is claiming Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support or a Council Tax discount or exemption fraudulently?

Find out how you can report fraud