Council tax law does not provide exemptions for homes with prayer rooms

21 February 2024
What was claimed

Muslims can be exempt from paying council tax if they have a prayer room in their home.

Our verdict

False. Owners of domestic properties can’t avoid paying council tax altogether by claiming that their home, or part of it, is used for religious purposes.

An old myth that Muslims can be exempted from paying council tax if they have a prayer room in their home has been re-circulating on social media.

This is a claim we’ve fact checked before—it’s been spreading online for over a decade.

It’s not true that Muslims, or members of any other religion, can avoid paying council tax on domestic properties altogether if a room is set aside for prayer.

The House of Commons Library says: “These claims have no basis in council tax law. It is not possible for owners of domestic property to avoid council tax by claiming that their property, or part of it, is used for religious purposes.”

The only exemption or discount related to religion set out in council tax law is for members of religious communities with “no income or capital” of their own who are “dependent on the community” to provide for their “material needs”. 

Council tax is paid on homes, while non-domestic properties pay business rates.

Certified places of public worship are exempt from business rates, though some parts of a religious premises may fall outside the exemption if they are not being used for religious worship.

According to the House of Commons Library: “It would be theoretically possible for part of a domestic property which was used for public religious purposes to be separately valued for business rates, and to be removed from the council tax valuation list. However, the VOA [the Valuation Office Agency, which is responsible for assessing properties for council tax and business rates in England and Wales] would have to be satisfied that this reflected the real use of the property. Such a change would be unlikely to make more than a minimal difference to the council tax bill on the remainder of the property.”

We’ve previously fact checked similar misleading claims about exemptions for members of particular religions, including about stamp duty exemptions for “sharia-compliant mortgages” and ULEZ exemptions for journeys to places of worship.

Image courtesy of GR Stocks

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