Council Tax FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is my Council Tax?

The charges set by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Scottish Water can be seen on the Charges page.

I think my property is in the wrong Valuation Band. Can I make an appeal?

You may make a proposal to alter the Valuation List including the valuation band in limited circumstances. Details can be obtained from the office of the Assessor at:

42 Point Street
Tel: 01851 706262

To check the banding of your property please go to the Assessor's Portal.

NB: No payment or part payment may be withheld pending the settlement of an appeal.

How can I pay my Council Tax?

Council Tax is payable by 10 monthly instalments by the first day of each month from April to January using one of the following payment methods:

DIRECT DEBIT – Payment by direct debit can ensure you never get behind with your payments. 

You will never receive another reminder and you will never have any extra costs.  Both you and the Comhairle will save money as a result.  Direct debit is our preferred method of payment.

Please print and complete a Direct Debit Instruction Form (58.3kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) and return it to us.

ONLINE - you can Pay Your Council Tax Bill Online in complete confidence using our secure service.  All major debit and credit cards are accepted.

IN PERSON – you can pay your council tax bill in person at our Service Access Point at Stornoway Town Hall or at our offices in Tarbert, Balivanich or Castlebay.  Please take your bill or instalment card with you.  Cash, cheque and debit/credit cards are accepted.

BY TELEPHONE – please call 01851 822642 if you would like to pay your bill by telephone using a debit or credit card.

BY POST – if you wish to pay your council tax by post, please send a cheque to the address shown on your bill.  Please ensure you write your council tax reference on the reverse of the cheque.  Please do not send cash by post: it is not secure.

BY PAYMENT CARD - if you previously paid your Council Tax using a plastic card issued to you please use the card to make payments.  If you are able to do so, please consider switching your payment method to direct debit.

I am having difficulty paying. What can I do?

If you fall into arrears or are having difficulty paying, please contact us on 01851 822642 or email us at It may be possible for some other system of payment to be arranged.

Do not wait for a reminder letter to arrive before contacting us.  Act now.

Further information on Council Tax and Housing Benefits is available via the Housing and Council Tax Benefits pages.

We are here to help you, particularly in circumstances which are difficult to overcome on your own.

What happens if I don’t pay?

If you are unable to come to a payment arrangement with the council or if you make arrangements to pay but don’t, the Comhairle can apply to the Sheriff’s Court for a ‘Summary Warrant’ (a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe, plus costs).

Am I entitled to a discount?

Council Tax is made up of a property element and a personal element. The personal element is based on at least two persons aged over 18 being resident in a property.

A 25% discount may be claimed if there is only one person over the age of 18 living in a property.

For billing purposes we do not count some people.  These are:

  • persons under 18 years of age
  • persons over 18 years of age in respect to whom child benefit is still payable
  • students
  • student nurses
  • apprentices on a low wage
  • persons detained in prison
  • the severely mentally impaired
  • long term hospital patients
  • persons in residential care or nursing homes
  • certain carers and care workers
  • members of religious communities who have no income
  • members of International Headquarters or defence organisations
  • certain school leavers under 20 years of age
  • persons of no fixed abode resident in hostels
  • members of certain international organisations such as NATO

If all of the people living in a property fall into one or more of the above categories then a 50% discount may be claimed.

( Application Forms for Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions )

I own a house which is no one's main residence, can I claim a discount?

An 100% levy is added to properties that are long term empty dwellings. These are defined as:

  • Unoccupied for over twelve months
  • Not a second home (as defined below)
  • Not entitled to a 50% reduction (as defined below)

No discount or levy will be granted/applied on properties which are second homes. These are defined as:

  • No one’s sole or main residence
  • Furnished
  • Occupied other than a sole or main residence for a minimum of 25 days in any twelve month period (Evidence will be required)

A 50% discount may be claimed in some circumstances.  These are:

  • purpose built holiday homes not allowed or unfit to be used for human habitation throughout the whole year
  • a dwelling owned or tenanted by a person required to live elsewhere to meet the requirements of their own, or their spouse’s employment and who is not a director of the company providing the dwelling
  • a job related dwelling occupied by a person who is the owner or a tenant of a dwelling elsewhere which is their sole or main residence
  • a dwelling undergoing major repairs or reconstruction for the six month period from the date of purchase by the liable person (This can be extended up to two years in some cases)
  • a dwelling undergoing major repairs or reconstruction for up to twelve months following the exemption detailed below

( Application Forms for Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions )

A disabled person lives in my house, can I get a reduction in Council Tax?

Where a property is the sole or main residence of at least one disabled person, the liable person may qualify for a reduction provided one of the following conditions is satisfied:-

  1. a room has been provided to cater for the disabled person's specific needs
  2. a second bathroom or second kitchen has been provided for use by the disabled person
  3. where sufficient floor space has been provided to permit the use of a wheelchair within the property and that a wheelchair is being used.

The valuation band we use to work out the council tax will be one band lower than the normal property band.

( Application Forms for Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions )

What properties are exempt from Council Tax?

There are categories of property which are exempt from Council Tax. These are:-

  • Unoccupied and unfurnished properties (maximum exemption of six months from the date the property became unfurnished)
  • Unoccupied new properties (maximum exemption of six months from the date the property was completed)
  • Unoccupied property where the householder is in hospital, a nursing home, or in residential care on a long term basis, or providing care, or is in prison
  • Unoccupied property which is undergoing major repair work or structural alteration (up to a maximum of 12 months from last occupation date)
  • Unoccupied property previously only occupied by students (a maximum of 4 months exemption – to cover the period from the end of one academic year and the start of the next)
  • Unoccupied Agricultural Dwellings
  • Unoccupied property where the liable person is a student
  • Unoccupied property which is owned by a Housing Body and is kept with a view to being demolished
  • Unoccupied property held by a Registered Charity (maximum 6 months exemption).
  • Unoccupied property repossessed by a bank/building society
  • Unoccupied property where the liable person has died and no grant of confirmation has been made. (and for up to 6 months after grant of confirmation has been made)
  • Unoccupied property available for occupation by a Minister of Religion
  • Unoccupied property where occupation is prohibited by law
  • Property where liability falls to be met solely by a trustee in bankruptcy
  • Property occupied only by persons who are severely mentally impaired and in receipt of qualifying benefits.
  • Property occupied only by students
  • Property occupied only by persons under 18 years of age.
  • Property held by Housing Association as a trial flat
  • Ministry of Defence armed forces accommodation

( Application Forms for Council Tax Discounts and Exemptions )

Who do I contact for further information?

If you have any queries relating to Council Tax please Contact Us.