Rumours on the Internet claim that Muslim households can avoid paying UK Council Tax if the occupants set aside one room in the house as a “place of worship”. The rumours claim that such an exemption only applies to Islam.
Such rumours have been spreading across social media and forums for well over a decade, and over the years have inspired a number of different versions. However, despite this rumour’s persistence, it isn’t based on reality.
An example of the hoax, taken from an archived 2013 petition to Parliament, can be seen below –
Muslim Council Tax Exemption
Muslims who use their living area’s within their homes as a place of Worship, are exempt from paying Council Tax.
This however does not apply to other religions.
In general, I would like this petition to urge the Government to see that regardless of a home being used as a home, or as a place of worship, Council Tax should still be paid as A) It would be used as a house if not and is being used as a house anyway and B) Other religions are not treated the same in this instance. E.g. If a Christian was to change their Living Room in their home into a Church area or place of prayer, that person would still be required to pay Council Tax. Why?
Non believers of religion are also being discriminated here.
That petition only managed to garner a few hundred signatories, well short of the 10,000 required to bring it to the attention of the UK Parliament. There’s a good reason for that too; it’s complete nonsense.
While it is true that “places of worship” are exempt from Council Tax in the UK, those looking to become exempt have to abide by a number of different guidelines as well as successfully register their location with the local council. The reality is that merely setting aside a room in which to worship in an otherwise residential address doesn’t exempt you from Council Tax, regardless of which religion you are purporting to celebrate.
Most notably, in order to successfully register your location as a place of worship and become Council Tax exempt, your building has to be a public place of worship, and advertised in this manner. Back in 2009, Simon Moon from ThisIsMoney.co.uk spoke to the Department of Communities and Local Government who told him –
…council tax exemption applies to ‘places of public religious worship’ – what you might loosely call a church.
…to qualify for special council tax treatment, the building used would have to be certified and there would normally be signs advertising the public nature of the worship going on there.
Those looking to certify their building as a place of worship have to register according to the ‘Places of Worship Registration Act 1855’, that requires those registering to provide a number of details about the location, including the address, complete floor plan of the building and an average weekly time table of events taking place in the building. Once submitted, the council will either accept or reject the registration based on the information provided to determine its suitability.
If the person’s location is deemed unsuitable – for example if the building is too small to be a public place of worship, or if the council suspects the person registering is simply trying to escape Council Tax – it is likely the registration would be rejected.
It is important to note at this point that all of the above applies to all religions, not just Islam. Any claim that Islam is treated any differently or can more easily avoid Council Tax is simply baseless, and unsupported by evidence.
What’s more, if you believe someone – of any religion – is using this phantom “loophole” to avoid paying Council Tax near where you live, you can simply request your council provide a list of public places of worship in your area. If a specific address does not appear on that list, it’s not exempt from Council Tax on religious grounds.
In 2013, this rumour has spurred a spin-off hoax concerning the so-called “Bedroom Tax”
BEDROOM TAX STARTS TODAY. (UNLESS YOUR A MUSLIM)
MUSLIMS CAN CLAIM EXEMPTION ND THEIR SPARE ROOM USED AS A PRAYER ROOM
NOW ARE YOU WAKING UP?…..
Just like with the Council Tax rumour, claims also circulated that claimed Muslims could avoid the “bedroom tax” (not really tax, rather a reduction in housing benefits for those with spare bedrooms) by designating a spare bedroom as a place of worship. These messages were also entirely nonsense.
Another variant claims that if a household contains more than 5 Muslims, it can be exempt from Council Tax based on religious grounds. This also isn’t based on truth.
Claims that Muslims can become exempt from Council Tax using loopholes not available to other religions is simply nonsense; nonsense that has been spreading for years without evidence, by people looking to disseminate propaganda that support their existing political beliefs. We recommend avoiding such drivel.