When most of us think of paying tax, the two things that spring to mind are rarely savings and convenience! But that could be about to change, after the Government today confirmed a new wave of reforms to the way council tax is collected.
Under measures billed as "common sense", ordinary families could be set to save up to £20 a year, as well as recieve added help in setting up and paying their bills.
While council tax is not going to disappear altogether, as may seem an even more attractive option, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has promised to make the whole system far simpler, and hand the savings made on to us - the taxpayers.
When combined with the council tax rise freeze of the past two years, it seems the Government is serious about making life easier for penny-counting families here in the UK.
What will change?
In simple terms, the council tax reforms are going to cut out a lot of the complex paperwork and admin stuff that has put such a sour taste in most mouths about the process. Here is a list of the most important points for us:
- When the changes come into force, you will be able to choose to pay council tax in 12 installments rather than 10, which should make life easier for those of us on a fixed income.
- One of the key policies of the reforms is to push for more electronic taxation, in an effort to reduce the amount and cost of paperwork currently in use. You will still be able to request hard copies of your bill, but you could save yourself a lot of hassle by taking your tax affairs online.
- The changes look set to give your local council more power on what changes to make, and how best to save you money. This should mean the tax is better tailored to where you live.
Mr Pickles also said that he wants to make having an annex for a live-in relative easier, as care is such an important factor in so many families' lives.
However, while the changes could see real savings for families, there is no getting away from the fact that life is hard at the moment for people bringing up kids on a tight budget.
This list of top tips to cut your monthly bills should help you swing the budget balance back towards your favour.