Tax! Eek! Just the word can send shivers down your spine. Haven’t you got enough to be worrying about as a student in Glasgow without fretting that you owe money to the council?
It might seem complicated but council tax is actually pretty straightforward as a student. We’ve created this guide to council tax for students to keep you in the know.
What is council tax?
Council tax is a local tax charged to households in Britain based on the value of their residential property. The rules differ between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales so we’re just going to focus on Scotland, and Glasgow specifically.
In Glasgow, council tax is billed from 1st April to 31st March of the following year. When you move into a property, you’re only charged tax for the months that you are the legal owner or resident of the property. So, if your tenancy agreement for your flat begins on August 25th, you only need to pay from August 25th to March 31st.
Glasgow City Council is transparent about how they spend the council tax collected, breaking all their expenditure figures down so you can clearly see where all your money is going.
Tax money goes towards things in your local authority like maintaining the roads and street lighting, paying for litter-picking, bin collection services, education, social work, and maintaining parks. Basically, it keeps the council area working.
I’m a full-time student, do I have to pay council tax?
Short answer: no. Full-time students do not have to pay council tax.
Long answer: still no. Full-time students do not have to pay council tax, but you must meet certain criteria to be classed as a full-time student.
For the purposes of council tax, full-time university or college students must:
- Be registered with a college or university for a course lasting at least one calendar or academic year.
- Have a total term time of at least 24 weeks.
- Be undertaking a course with at least 21 hours of study or work experience per week.
While you need to be in full-time education, you don’t need to actually be in classes for 21 hours a week, 24 weeks a year. You are still classed as a full-time student when you’re undertaking research or working independently.
Similarly, if you need to take time off sick and you’re still registered as a full-time student, you’re still exempt from council tax.
These rules apply to postgraduate students and international students too.
I’m a part-time student, do I have to pay council tax?
Unfortunately, if you’re a part-time student, you’ll have to pay council tax.
As your workload is limited, you are expected to have the time to find employment to cover your council tax bill, unlike a full-time student.
Luckily, you are able to apply for a council tax reduction if you earn a low income and have savings less than £16,000.
Other factors might affect how much you pay, including whether you live with full-time students and if you have children. When in doubt, find a student advisor at your university and ask them for advice. Failing that, contact the council to see what can be done for your particular circumstances.
I live with a student, do I have to pay council tax?
The only properties that are totally exempt from council tax are those that are only occupied by full-time students. If you are a non-student who lives with a full-time student, you still have to pay council tax, but you’ll be entitled to a council tax discount.
Normally, the non-student only has to pay 75% of the standard council tax charge on the property. And technically only the non-student has required to pay it, although people will often split the bills evenly.
The rules change a little when there is more than one person living in the property that is liable to pay council tax. For example, a set of parents who have a full-time student living at home won’t get a 25% discount as soon as their child enrols at university.
It’s technically a single person discount unless your circumstances mean you’re entitled to some council tax benefit or discount. This might apply to you if you’re a non-British partner or dependent of a full-time student. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau suggests you speak to an advisor if this is your situation to find out what you’re eligible to pay.
I’m studying but live at home, do I have to pay council tax?
For council tax purposes, the same rules apply to students whether they live at home or live in their own flat.
As long as you’re enrolled in a full-time course, you are entitled to a full exemption from council tax. Part-time students are still eligible.
Council tax bands Glasgow
The amount of council tax you pay depends on what council tax band your property falls under, and this is calculated depending on the property’s value.
There are eight bands in Glasgow City Council and we’ve summarised the charges below. The total payment includes council tax, water charge, and sewerage charge, all bundled into one on one council tax bill. These figures are for 2019/20:
|Council Tax Band
||Total Yearly Council Tax
||Up to £27,000
Your council tax band has nothing to do with your income, just the property valuation. Not all properties in the same tenement building or on the same street will fall under the same council tax band.
How do I get student council tax exemption?
For all students living in student halls of residence, council tax exemption is granted automatically, as the building is considered an “exempt dwelling”, so they’re kept off of the council’s radar for council tax purposes.
If you’re a full-time student who doesn’t live in halls, you can manage your exemption in one of two ways:
- Your university passes on your student status to the council for you at enrollment.
- You fill out an application form and send it to the council with your proof of student status.
In Glasgow, the following colleges and universities automatically send on your student status confirmation:
- University of Glasgow
- University of Strathclyde
- University of West of Scotland
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- City of Glasgow College
- Glasgow Clyde College
- Kelvin College
- Glasgow School of Art
- Glasgow International College
- Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
You need to make sure that you give permission during your enrollment for the university to pass on your student status details to the council. This is normally a simple check-box on your online sign-up portal.
If you are beyond enrollment and forgot to give permission, you’ll need to go through the ordinary process of submitting your details manually. The application form can be found here.
You can obtain your proof of student status by speaking to someone in the student services department at your college or university, or you can often access it online in your student portal.
Every academic year, you’ll need to provide proof that you’re still a registered student in order to secure your council tax exemption.
We hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have had navigating the world of council tax for students! For more information, visit the Scottish Government website for more general information about council tax.
Store your things over summer!
Most student lets only run through the academic year, which leaves you without accommodation for a few months during the summer. A lot of students use this time to go home, visit family or travel with friends.
Instead of hauling all your things back to your parents during the summer, a smarter idea is to store everything in a local storage unit. We offer a specialised short-term storage service for students and can even pick up your things from your current address. Click here to learn more about our student storage service!