MORE than 1.7million Brits are owed an average of £137 each in council tax refunds, according to new research.
In fact, over £230million are sitting in closed or dormant accounts – those with no activity over a long period of time – and while some councils issue refunds automatically, you often have to ask for it.
Getty – Contributor More than 1.7 million Brits are owed an average of £137 in council tax refunds
Consumer website Moneysavingexpert.com (MSE) asked all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales about how much their closed or dormant accounts are in credit by, and based on data from the 283 councils that responded, a collective total of £234million is still waiting to be claimed.
Yet as almost 100 councils didn’t share the figures, the total is likely to be even higher, MSE said.
Council tax is usually paid in advance for the month or year ahead, so you’ll be in credit.
Normally this isn’t a problem but an account can be closed while in credit – often because you or another resident has moved out, or someone in the property has died – meaning you’re due a refund.
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Of the councils that responded, two of them – City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City – had over £10million of council tax credit in closed accounts, while another five had over £5million.
Only six of the councils that shared the figures had less than £10,000 in them.
Larger councils are likely to have more unclaimed credit, while there will be differences because some councils’ records date back to different years too.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, said: “Councils are sitting on a staggering amount of money.
“And while they do make efforts to track down those who are owed, many don’t do it well enough, especially when people have moved out of their area and are no longer their responsibility.
“That means we all need to take responsibility for ourselves.”
How to claim a refund
Getty – Contributor Contact your council to find out whether you’re eligible for a payout
You’re most likely to be able to claim back cash if you’ve moved out of a council or local authority area in the last 26 years, and weren’t paying by direct debit, according to MSE.
So if you believe your council tax account may have been closed in credit, you should contact the council to get a refund.
Some may be able to claim back as far as 1993 when council tax was introduced, although it varies by council.
Based on your council, you have two different options, according to MSE.Check if your council offers an online claims form
One way to find out if you’re owed money is by searching “[council name] council tax refund form” on Google.
If there isn’t a form, it should take you to a page explaining your council’s process.
Yet as many councils’ forms require you to have your old council tax reference number, and some forms are very long, you could try the below option too.
Call or email your council
If there’s no online form, you can try calling, emailing or live chatting with your council instead. You can check contact details on the Gov.uk website.
Usually you just have to give your name and old address – or in some cases, you may be asked some security questions too.
It’s worth noting that if you find out that you’re owed cash, you’re likely to then have to fill in a form anyway to actually reclaim it.
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Council tax will go up by an average of £76.60 per household from next month.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help you pay less.
But be aware of a council tax scam where fraudsters try to con you into handing over your bank details.
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