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Council Tax

What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is a local government tax - it provides income for Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to provide local services and amenities. The tax is applied to residential property, the amount of the tax bill increasing with the value of the house.

Who has to pay?

Usually the occupants of a house are responsible for paying the Council Tax, not the owners, unless:

  • The house is unoccupied.
  • The dwelling is occupied by more than one household - e.g. HMOs. As a result, landlords may have to charge their tenants extra to cover the cost.

Some houses are automatically exempt, fortunately including accommodation for full time students:

  • Student halls of residence and college accommodation
  • Houses entirely occupied by full time students

Usually the adult residents are jointly and severally liable, i.e. they share equal liability for paying the bill.

Who is exempt?

Some people, including full time students, are exempt from liability for paying Council Tax - they are simply not included amongst the adult residents of the house when calculating the bill. Exemptions apply to properties occupied soley by full-time students, among others. For more information on exemptions, see the City Council's Guidance.

To receive Council Tax bills which take account of your personal exemption, you will need to request an exemption and provide evidence of your status. Cambridge students should usually obtain a letter confirming their address and course of study from their college.


Whose bills are reduced?

The full tax bill assumes that the house is occupied as the main residence of two or more adults. Reductions of 25% are available if only one non-exempt adult lives in the house.

How much is the full bill?

This varies between council areas and with the value of your house. Council Tax is banded, and the amounts can be viewed online.


Summary for common student scenarios

The majority of full time graduate students should find themselves in one of the following situations:

Residential situationOther residentsHousehold billPersonal bill
Renting in college Students None (exempt) None (exempt)
Renting (shared house or HMO) Only full time students None (exempt) None (exempt)
Exactly one non-student 75% of the full amount None (exempt)
Your non-British spouse/dependant None (exempt) None (exempt)
Two or more non-students The full amount None (exempt)
A non-British dependant None (exempt) None (exempt)
Owner-occupier None 75% of the full amount 75% of the full amount
Only full time students None (exempt) None (exempt)
Exactly one non-student 75% of the full amount 75% of the full amount
Two or more non-students The full amount The full amount


Contact and Information


Cambridge City Council

Mandela House
4 Regent Street
01223 457790