Council tax discounts (and what used to be council tax benefits) can be quite complicated, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it can be quite easy to make mistakes. It can even be quite easy to get carried away.
Much like reading horoscopes, which are written in such a vague and ubiquitous way that they virtually apply to everyone, filling in a claim for discounts (or benefits) can often result in the claimant agreeing that a certain criteria could apply to them. The problem is, it’s a slippery slope; as soon as you give a little leeway for one criterion, it is easier to give a little more to another. Before too long you’ve ticked every box, even though some of them would be most challenging to provide evidence for.
29 year old Lynn Harrison has recently appeared in court having falsely claimed £50,000 worth of benefits. Whether her crime was purposeful or, although it seems unlikely, accidental, it isn’t our place to speculate. What is important is that other struggling families don’t make the same mistakes.
Although council tax benefits were abolished in place of discretionary council tax discounts and exemptions, the severity of misinforming the council about your situation is just as serious. Court hearings, fines and possible jail sentences will not help your situation if you are struggling with paying your council tax bills.
At the end of the day, if you don’t fully understand the questions that you are asked when applying for council tax discounts or exemptions you need to ask for help because making the wrong choice could be extremely costly in the long run. Your application for council tax discounts need to be precise, every claim that you make should be easily backed up with irrefutable evidence; the council might not ask you for every iota of information regarding your situation, but you should be prepared for the fact that they might.
Before approaching the council about a discount or exemption, you might consider contacting Council Tax Advisors for advice on how you might want to attack the situation and how you might deal with the paperwork involved.