The tech whiz-kid Joshua Browder shot to fame two years ago with DoNotPay, an online “robot lawyer” designed to fight unfair parking tickets. It has gone on to successfully challenge more than 450,000 tickets – and now it’s time for local authority council tax departments to watch out. That’s because Browder, 20, has now created an online service to help households challenge their council tax banding.
“I’ve developed technology which looks at your council tax band, your neighbors’ council tax bands and historical house price data, and tells you whether you might get your band lowered. You can complete the process in 10 seconds,” says Browder.
The service, likely to be available via his DoNotPay site, should be up and running any day now, though you don’t have to wait until it launches – it’s already possible to find out whether you may be overpaying. And whether it takes 10 seconds or a little bit longer than that, challenging your banding can be time well spent. MoneySavingExpert estimates that up to 400,000 households are paying too much.
The good news is that you can check and challenge your council tax banding in 10 minutes at no cost – and, if you’re successful, not only could you slash what you pay now, you could even get a backdated rebate stretching back more than 20 years.
How is your bill calculated?
Your council tax bill depends on three factors: your tax band, local council tax rates and any discounts you might be entitled to.
Should you challenge?
Experts suggest carrying out two checks before you challenge your council tax band: which band your neighbors are in and the value of your house in 1991.
How to make a challenge
If your property is in England or Wales, you need to contact the VOA and explain why you think your council tax banding is wrong. Go to the VOA site, where you can key in your postcode (or someone else’s) and get the council tax bands for all the properties in that road/area.
If you are unhappy with the results of a review that is carried out, you might be able to formally challenge the band. However, the circumstances for doing so are limited.
Council tax discounts
Thousands of people may be due a council tax discount due to their personal circumstances.
Research by MoneySavingExpert suggests that up to 100,000 people who are entitled to a substantial council tax discount are missing out.