British people could be owed a total of £230million in council tax refunds, an investigation has found.
MoneySavingExpert.com revealed that people who have moved home since 1993 could be owed upwards of £100 in refunds.
There are 1.7 million council tax accounts which are inactive or closed but still hold credit which should have been refunded when the account was closed, the Express reports.
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Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Councils are sitting on a staggering amount of money, at least £230million spread across 1.7 million accounts, which works out at an average of well over £100 sitting in each closed account.
“And while councils 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.”
Savers are not encouraged to call up their council as it would “waste people’s time”, according to the expert. However, there are some steps you can take and MoneySavingExpert.com has a helpful guide.
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The guide explains: “Many people aren’t aware they pay council tax a month (or sometimes a year) ahead, meaning it’s common to be in credit when you move home.”
For example, if a household is using 10 monthly instalments to pay their council tax, they wouldn’t pay in February and March. If this household moves out mid-February, they have overpaid a month and a half of council tax.
Credit will also be added if at any point a person overpaid their council tax bill, if a resident moved out, or someone living in the property died. The credit should usually be refunded automatically before the account is closed.
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The investigation found households are most likely to be due a claim if they’ve moved out of a council or local authority area in the last 29 years. But this is only for those that were not paying their council tax by direct debit.
Direct debit refunds are a bit more straightforward than other payment methods that require direct contact between the council and the household.
People who moved houses within the same local authority area likely would have used up the credit from their old account. Additionally, households that didn’t leave a forwarding address when they moved are even more likely to be owed a refund.
One way to check if you are owed a refund is to look for an online claims form from the old council, as this would likely be the simplest and quickest way to check and claim.
Savers can search the council name and the words ‘council tax refund form’, to find the correct document if it is available for their council.
Another possible way to check is emailing, live chatting or calling the council – the details for which can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Members of the Money Saving Expert team attempted calling their old councils to see the process and most were only asked for their name and old address whilst others had some security questions to go through.
However, the report noted the process was “usually straightforward”.
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