Second homeowners could become liable for the full level of council tax under proposals published this week by coalition ministers.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is consulting on a range of changes to council tax as part of its efforts to reduce the level of the tax.
Proposals include allowing councils to end the discount on second and empty homes and making banks which repossess homes liable for the property’s council tax.
Ministers claim these changes would be equal to a £20 reduction in the bill for a typical Band D property in England.
Councils would be encouraged to apply discretionary discounts for deserving cases such as homes becoming vacant due to fire or flooding.
They would also be required to continue offering a discount where homes become empty due to the owner going into hospital or a care home.
Other proposals include allowing residents to pay council tax bills in 12 monthly payments, rather than the current 10, which would lowe the monthly burden for households, and offering discounts for paying by e-billing.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “By treating everyone equally and fairly and removing the special tax breaks for empty homes and second homes, councils have the potential to cut £20 a year off families’ council tax bills.
“Councils should make it easier to pay bills, and offer the same discounts for electronic billing that other companies offer as standard – this will cut paperwork and reduce tax bills.”
Proposals to end discounts for second homes have been welcomed Westminster City Council which said they would “provide some welcome relief for hard working families in Westminster that have seen the cost of living dramatically rise.”