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I am a full time uni student in UK.

My Course ran from 2013 Sept to 2014 June and starts again in this year September.

During the summer holidays, I lived in a private accommodation style property and worked as an Intern earning minimum wage.

But few days ago, I received a demand for council tax from Kingston Upon Thames's council.

I told them that I was a full time student but they told me that even if I was, I need to pay council tax during non-course time.

Is this true? Do I really need to pay up?

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As a full time student, you do not need to pay council tax as long as everyone residing at your address is also a full time student. The course you are studying must be at least 1 year in length, but this doesn't mean you have to have been studying on it for a year to qualify for exemption. I believe this is the same for all councils in the UK.

Assuming this is the case for you, you will be able to apply for an exemption if you are sent a bill for council tax. This YouGov page will tell you more. There is also a helpful page from the National Union of Students here.

To add a personal anecdote, I studied at university full time in the UK between 2009 and 2013. I lived in private accommodation all year round for 3 of those years, worked every summer and never paid a penny in council tax. You shouldn't have to either.

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This is from Kingston upon Thames council tax student discount page.

in further or higher education:

  • for at least one academic or calendar year

  • at a prescribed education establishment (eg a university or theological college)

in further education and under the age of 20:

  • on a course that lasts three months or more
  • attending at least 12 hours a week for supervised study or examination
  • where classes are carried out between 8.30am and 5.30pm
  • where the course in not carried out by correspondence

So according to their interpretation, you aren't included in any category. Hence, the demand for council tax.

But I am ssuming there are trying to be too strict on the rules, while saying I need to pay council tax during non-course time. I would say get further clarification before paying up. Ask them where it is mentioned that students have to pay council tax during non course time. And ask them as you were a minimum wage earner, what discount I can get ? You might have to pay council tax, but you might be eligible for a discount also.

You will have to pay or you will be prosecuted, so not paying isn't an option and I would advise against it. Council's have the discretion to let go off your council tax, but that might be a tad difficult.

THis might help also. Get in touch with your local Citizen's Advice Bureau and ask what you can do. That is a free service and might be helpful.

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    As well as the CAB it's likely that the OP's university will have a student advice service of some kind which could help. – Nigel Harper Sep 3 '14 at 16:54
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Unless you've told them (and probably provided evidence) that you are a student and hence don't have to pay, then they won't know that and will therefore send a request for money.

A subtlety can be that if you are between courses then you're not currently a student, and are therefore liable for council tax - i.e. if you've finished the first year of a three year course which is still continuing, then even if currently it's the summer break you're still a student and aren't liable, but if you finished one course in june and are starting a different one in september then you wouldn't actually count as a student between the end date of the first and the start date of the second.

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