The issue of council tax looks set to divide the main parties in the mid way point of the election campaign.
Michael Howard has promised that a Conservative government would cancel the revaluation of council tax, which they claim will cause "soaring bills" for millions of homes.
The Liberal Democrats accuse the Tories of having flip-flopped on the issue and are campaigning on their pledge to replace council tax with a local income tax.
Labour have dismissed speculation of higher council tax bills as "scaremongering" and have promised pensioners a one-off £200 rebate.
What should be done about council tax? What are your experiences of council tax rises? Which party reflects your opinion?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far.
How do the Lib Dems plan to deal with second home owners? Surely it's only fair that they pay local income tax for both homes!
Andrew, York, England
I think it is about time for the council tax to be scrapped and based on your income. I agree with the policy of the Lib Dems to replace it with a local income tax. The council tax does not work and hundreds of services from childcare to elderly care have disappeared around the UK. We need value for money and more services from after school clubs to more policemen on the streets.
Paul Dey, Leicester, UK
Council tax should be reduced by 20% and frozen for 5 yrs.
Vinod Gosai, London, UK
I think to revalue houses to increase council bands and tax is outrageous particularly as properties vary in price depending on what part of the country you live. Older people who live in their family home whose value has inflated with the house increase bubble will be severely prejudiced. I go with the Conservatives on this issue or failing them, I like the Lib Dems' ideas on this issue. Labour's concession looks begrudging and mean and unworthy.
Pamela Harries, London
If compulsory taxation payable by an individual for funding central government's expenditure is rightly based on income, the same principle should apply to local government. Local income taxes are the only fair way.
Roland Rench, Beckenham, England
Simple solution: scrap council tax and increase income tax to make up for the shortfall.
Asif Givashi, London
Whilst everybody appears to be banging on about council tax, have we forgotten the government's policy also involves the possible triple increase in national insurance and there appears to be a proposal on the cards about a licence fee for computers commensurate with the TV licence? Just a thought.
Bob Jarvis, Crawley, West Sussex
I don't mind paying more if there is a real improvement in public services. Labour have had eight years to do this, but standards seem to have gone backwards. No longer can they blame any short comings on previous governments. It is their fault and theirs alone that our services are in the state they are. I will not pay any more tax just so overpaid ministers can squander it. Labour have had their chance and failed, time for a change.
Jonny, Swansea, South Wales
Bin it. It's swiftly turned into a stealth poll tax.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
As everyone uses local services the only fair way is the much maligned community charge, but operated sensibly and not as a way of increasing income as some councils did the last time.
Ken Chalk, Stamford, Lincs
National taxes are paid based on income, so why not local taxes? I can't think of any fairer system.
Simon, Camberley, Surrey
I'd like to see some real local democracy in place - why can't we allow communities to have the final say on what form of local tax system is implemented in their area?
If you paid income tax according to the size of your house, you would think that was pretty daft, wouldn't you?
Andrew M, Walsall, UK
I was made redundant and had no (zero) income for a period. However, I live in band G property so still had to pay over £1500 p/a (after single occupier discount). No council tax benefit was available because of my savings/redundancy compensation. This effectively imposed council tax on my savings etc. Who thinks this is fair? I am single and have paid (probably more than) my share of taxes and don't use many council services. Why is it only "hard working families" etc that seem to attract politicians sympathy? I could have just about tolerated council tax if it had been linked to wages and prices. If present trends continue, with the added burden of revaluation it will eventually overtake my income!
Andy Watson, Derby
Council tax is collected to pay for the local services so does a person in a Band B use fewer services than those in a Band E? Perhaps it's time to scrap the council tax as a whole and charge each home owner equally.
Deborah, Staffordshire, England
Tax, tax, tax - how much more tax do the government want?! My husband and I were first time buyers at the end of last year and after six months of living in our house we are still finding it very difficult paying all the bills together with the mortgage etc. Why shouldn't we be entitled to some kind of tax relief? Shouldn't we be given the chance to start a life together and start planning for a family? How is it possible to afford all of this? The only people who seem to get any attention with regards to tax credits/relief are those who do not work, pensioners and those with children. I'm not saying scrap council tax altogether because someone needs to pay for the local services, but I feel the hard working honest people who do not sign on to any kind of benefits should be considered as well. If councils stopped wasting money on fitting kitchens and bathrooms into council flats/houses (whether the tenant works or not) maybe the rest of us wouldn't need to pay so much!
Local income tax would still be unfair. Five people in one little flat would pay five times someone in a mansion. However, providing street lighting for them would cost the same, collecting the rubbish would not be much more etc. We live in a crowded island, why punish those who live in crowded accommodation?
David, London, UK
With the serious and often ignored problem of homelessness, if we are to have a property tax at all why don't we use it to tax the eyes out of those who own second homes without renting them and deprive others of a living space?
Alex, Leicester, UK
I am worried about the revaluation for council tax and have calculated, based on the Valuation Office Agency (HM revenue and Customs agency) that my council tax will double based on the value of my flat today. The analysis by the Labour and Conservatives of the effect a local income tax would have is based on the current banding and does not reflect the new banding rates. Why is this not being commented on?
The council tax is the most cynical, underhand, money-grabbing scheme around. I've seen huge percentage increases - wildly ahead of inflation for no justifiable reason. The services haven't visibly improved. The last straw is this revaluation scam where, for the privilege of living in exactly the same property for 15 years we are going to be penalised for it having increased in value. It's a rip off and I can't pay, won't pay it any more.
Lorraine, St Albans, UK
The fact that council tax has increased by 70% since Tony Blair came to power should make even the most faithful Labour supporter think that should Labour win the election the only direction council tax is likely to go is up!
Jack Stone, Southend on Sea.
Having done some work with a local authority recently, and seen first hand the amount they spend on the absolute latest, and totally unnecessary IT equipment, I understand where at least some of the 140% increase of the past five years has gone. Sadly, it doesn't help convince me I've been anything other than robbed, or that I am prepared to pay a penny further above the rate of inflation.
Dan, Yateley, UK
The Council Tax is hugely unfair and in fact not based on each individual property but an average of all those in the surrounding area. For example, I pay the same for my (rented) two bedroom flat as a friend who lives half a mile away in a five bedroom house with front and rear garden. More than 10% rises each and every year seem to result in no improvement in local services so why am I paying orders of magnitude greater than the rate of inflation year on year?
James, Oxford, UK
The Lib Dems have got it right when it comes to council tax. It is unfair when the levy is set by the value of your property. Why are Labour and Tory so set against a levy being based on ability to pay? It is ridiculous to expect one household to pay a greater proportion of its income than the next, identical household simply because the latter has a greater income.
John Carter, Salisbury, England
The revaluation of properties could be made to have no significant impact on how much people are paying, if the charge per banding is moved in line with the expected increase in banding, in other words the costs for each band are reduced at the same time as properties are re-banded.
Andrew Crookes, Minsterley, England
To all those who think our present council tax is fair, do you also think it would be fair to base your income tax on the value of your property? Of course not, it should be based on your income. So why should the council tax be any different?
The reason why the council tax keeps going up is not because the cost of services is going up. But because central government is manipulating the system by deliberately transferring the burden from general taxation to the council tax. I work for the police and every year the amount that is needed locally to cover the shortfall goes up just to stay at the same level of funding.
Revaluation has caused the council tax bill on my small terraced house to soar. My house may be nominally worth more, but I actually earn less than when I bought it so why am I suddenly and magically supposed to be able to afford this rise? This along with my ever increasing mortgage repayments may be the last straw that forces me to sell up and move back to my parents. I really can't see how I can afford to keep going like this.
Local income tax, but not used to create a rise in income for the councils which is all that spoilt the poll tax.
Andrew Green, Lincoln, UK
Why do Labour and the Conservatives want to give blanket discounts to pensioners, including those pensioners who already have far more money than the rest of us? The same can be said for child benefit, disability allowance, maternity allowance, heating allowance and even the OAP.
Scrap it full stop, it's just another tax. If they change the name of it to something else it's still a tax and if they do change the name it will go up another 20%.
Alistair Topping, Leyland, Lancashire
No one likes paying tax but ability to pay has to be the right way. The problem is that the Liberal Democrats are the only party offering this but voting for the Liberals also means voting for Europe.
Ron, Newport Pagnell, England
Council tax is a hidden income tax which affects pensioners more than any other group. It is a stealth tax.
David Simmonds, Woking Surrey
Revaluation should result in fairer allocation of tax across each borough. I am against local income tax, but I was shocked to understand the high percentage of income that some pensioners have to pay in council tax. I would support a rebate or reduced tax scheme for pensioners, paid for by increases to overall council tax levels.
Tim Nelson, Reigate, Surrey
Council tax is only unpopular because it's paid upfront. Not revaluing housing is ridiculous. Local income tax is the end of local democracy.
David Alfred, Brighton
Revaluation is a necessary good thing. In the area where I own my home, many new houses have been built since 1990 and many more have been renovated or extended. This has meant that local authorities have had to decide how much a house would have been worth in 1990 according to arbitrary criteria. Also, the relative house values across the region have changed significantly since 1990. This has lead to many inconsistencies. To keep the system fair, regular revaluations should be the norm.
Simon, Norwich, UK (currently in USA)
Local income tax? Based on where you live or where you work? Second homes? Folk who move homes frequently? Local income tax won't work because people and their incomes can move about. A local tax has to be based on something that can't move, like houses!
Andy Malcolm, Trefnant, Wales
Why all the fuss about revaluation. Would it not be simpler to classify houses by type. For example a 2 bed semi is band c, a 3 bed semi is band D, a detached is band E etc. Put each house in a band and it can stay there forever regardless of valuation. Councils can then set a charge for each band. Is this too simple an answer for politicians to adopt?
Graham Marsh, New Mills, England
In Wales, we have already been 're-valued' for Council Tax. If the Tories will revoke English re-valuation, what will they do about us, most of whom now pay vastly more.
Gordon Hughes, Machynlleth, Powys
I'd like to see the cost of council tax reduced by charging those who impose on the services. For instance, town centre public houses should pay a fixed fee to hospitals and the police force every time someone is arrested for fighting on a Saturday night and needs their stomach pumped, and a fee to the poor person who has to wash their vomit off the street at 6 am on a Sunday morning. That'd knock £100 of my council tax in this town.
Dawn, Kettering, England
Scrap the council tax and increase the rate of VAT. This way everyone pays. The rich pay more because they spend more on quality items and luxuries.
T Newman, Bournemouth UK
Twenty years ago, the Tories rejected local income tax due to lack of a feasible means of administering it. We ended up with the community charge (poll tax) and subsequently the council tax. Time and technology has changed, and the idea of a local income tax should be re-visited. Only political pride and stupidity will prevent it's practical, and cost effective introduction.
Why do we need any form of council tax? Use central tax (which pays the majority of local costs anyway), thus saving on complication and cost of collection (even the Lib Dem idea of local income tax will cost money). If the electorate want some local democracy they can choose how the council spend the money rather than how much is taken. The central fund could be done on a per head of population to be fair. To claim it pays for local services denies the fact that the majority of people are very mobile - for instance I use sports centres in Cambridgeshire while at work, swimming pools in Norfolk at the weekend and pay local tax in Suffolk where I live - but not the part of Suffolk whose parks I use when shopping on Saturday!
Dave, Newmarket, England
Council Tax, based on the perceived value of bricks and mortar, is iniquitous. My council tax has increased by approximately 72% over the last 7 years but my circumstances have changed considerably in the last 12 months. I now exist on a small pension and my biggest outlay is now my monthly council tax charge which accounts for 12.5% of my total annual income. That is a nonsense!
Ken Armitage, Ipswich
Here in Derbyshire annual council tax increases have averaged 9%, the annual amount more than doubling since the tax was introduced. This year the rise has been magically limited to 3% but I am under no illusion as a self-employed person that I am merely funding somebody else's pension scheme. After offering to review the review, was the next Conservative brainwave going to be a tax on every individual, a sort of poll tax I suppose you might call it? If so, I think this is where we came in.
Mike Bettney, Long Eaton, UK
What most people seem to be forgetting is that a high proportion of the costs of local government services come out of general taxation and to that extent are already linked to our ability to pay. The proportion obtained from council tax is relatively small. The Lib Dems seem to be proposing that the local accountability component should also relate to our ability to pay. I will be surprised if the Lyons review doesn't see local income tax as a fairer way forward.
The Labour government absolutely hate anybody having any sort of wealth, no matter how tiny. They are continually on the take from people who actually work hard and lead honest lives - this being another example of it. Vote Labour - not on your life.
Any tax is unwelcome but the political manipulations of this 'back-door' tax highlights this government's continuing taxation by devious means. If any company started to charge more for the same product we would all look for another supplier. Our chance is coming soon - the question is - who do we believe?
I'm fed up to the back teeth with people harping on about ability to pay. No other goods or services we buy are based on income so why should council services be? Of course those on low incomes should get some assistance but above this level everyone should pay the same. What people also seem to forget is that council tax is paid out of income that has already been taxed based on the amount you earn.
Matt F, Bristol, UK
You've only got to look at the Guardian job ads to see why council taxes are high - and getting higher. Why do local authorities need so many PR and marketing people? Why do councils need so many counsellors of countless different varieties? All these hundreds of non-jobs in each town hall not only suck away large amounts of money, they eat up vast amounts of support costs in terms of offices, furniture and equipment, plus expensive IT systems and inflated staff benefits.
Mike Abbott, Kew, UK
The revaluation is needed for fairness. As a result of extensions many of the houses in our road are vastly bigger than when they were valued, but they are still in the same tax band. Central government pays 75% of the cost of local services from general taxation. To make councils more accountable to the electorate, that subsidy should be reduced, along with a transparent reduction in national taxation. Can anyone remember what was wrong with the old rateable value system?
Martin, Chelmsford UK
Make every one pay. Then the people who work will not be punished by having to pay a ridiculously high council tax. Why must hard working family's be always stung with high tax?
Steve Pennell, Burnley, UK
Council tax, local income tax, sales tax. Seems none of these are acceptable! Well we've got to pay for our local services somehow. Maybe we should just throw the garbage out on the streets and let the rats eat it. Remember its your local authority that sets the charges not the government.
Rob, Kirkcaldy, Fife
I broadly support New Labour but some form of poll tax seems the fairest way - we all pay. Sadly the issue seemed to be those who are too used to hand-outs causing trouble. No (local) representation without taxation!
Mark Riches, Berkhamsted, UK
There is no fair council tax. I could say I don't use schools, public libraries, swimming pools, parks or playgrounds. I have less rubbish than a family of four but I'm expected to pay for things I don't use! I'm one of Britain's hard working single people and pay tax. Why should I have to pay for those who have chosen to have children and can't afford them?
Local income tax should replace the current system. There are many people with low incomes living in valuable houses purely because they bought them years ago.
Martin Husbands, Monmouth, Wales
The Lib Dems' local income tax is unfair it will only hit hard working families.
So far from the Liberal Democrats we have had local income tax and residency time in the UK for pensions. That means someone who has never worked and therefore contributed to NI etc will not be paying much local tax and get a full pension. Whereas someone who works, pays NI and local taxes who might leave for a few years won't. Fair? I don't think so.
Revaluation of houses is totally unfair. If the property was re-banded I have no doubt that my council tax bill would rise and I would no longer be able to afford the property. How can this revaluation be fair to those of us who rent? We will never benefit from the property rising in value. Tax should be linked to ability to pay.
Heather, Mirfield, West Yorks
Here we go again, get a good job, work hard, earn more money, spend it on and improve your property and get penalised more for doing it! Why there are so many immigrants and asylum seekers trying to enter this country is beyond me! Lets face it this country is finished!!
Mark, Newcastle Upon Tyne
The idea of a local income tax is an interesting one. However, as any economist will tell you, to have no tax on the value of property is an economic nonsense because most people's wealth is in property. What would be a better system economically would be to have a percentage tax on the value of your house; I believe Denmark levies a tax of 1% of property values per year. That would eliminate the massive house price fluctuations that have always beset the UK economy. People wouldn't think 20% annual house price inflation was so great then!
Having read the comments thus far I am astounded at the number of people who's greed and self-absorption deludes them into thinking that tax based on your ability to pay is less fair than the current system of council tax. This ideology free 21st Century approach to politics is the main reason why our two main parties squabble like kids over the middle ground, pandering to no more than people's immediate greed.
John Anderson, Dundee, UK
The unfair council tax makes my blood boil. The value of your house is irrelevant when determining the cost of local services and your ability to pay for them. Work hard for a nice house then pay for it for ever!
David Robinson, Kettering, Northants
The Council Tax is pretty much just the same as the Poll Tax, except the Council Tax is based off home value, whereas the Poll Tax was based on Rental Value. Neither system is fair. They penalise low wage earners with big families, who therefore need bigger houses. Local Income Tax isn't perfect either, but at least it taxes those who earn more rather than those who simply have the most expensive house, which is not the same thing by any means.
Chris Terry, Weymouth, Dorset, England
Andy K says "Local income tax bears no relation to services we get back in return" but this is also true of national income tax. Nevertheless we have a national income tax to pay for national "services" because we accept the principle of basing revenue collection on the ability to pay. Why should paying for local services be any different? Especially when combining the two reduces the bureaucratic "waste" that seems to be on many people's minds.
Matthew Faupel, Cambridge, UK
Do these people really think that if the council tax was scrapped like the Lib Dems wish then we would all be better off? We would end up with another taxation system or a few percent onto the basic rate of income tax. The fact is that the poll tax was flawed, the council tax is flawed and any other system of taxation would not make everyone happy.
Craig, Birmingham, England
Never mind how tax is collected, look first at how it is spent. Administrative overheads of 23% is not acceptable. Give value for money and we'll pay, continue this level of waste and sooner or later we will not.
Local council tax is unfair. We should not be taxed more or less depending on postcode for the same services. Adjustment to income tax would be much fairer.
It would appear very logical to base council tax on property size and value. Property is a valuable asset (and generally reflects earnings). If people living in big houses are finding their council tax a strain, they could always try living in a smaller house and pay less, if they prefer.
John Hooper, Lichfield
I spent many years in education, found a good job, out of choice I work many hours, sometimes weekends just to provide financial stability for my family now and in the future. What do I get in return? I pay high taxes, which I can just about live with, as I don't know why I get punished for working hard and earning more. And if the Lib Dems get into power (which they wont), I'd be paying more tax at home. Council tax should be abolished, and replaced with funds moved from the defence budget!
I believe the only fair system is to base the tax on the amount of income earned. I also believe this should reflect how many adults are living in the house. Currently, although I support myself and live on my own, I still only get a 25% discount which is totally unjust.
Katie, Marlow, Bucks
This isn't a taxation based on the size of the house, but on its value, which is an idiotic way of trying to tax people based on their wealth as house values have little relation to anything tangible - why not just tax income? The idea of a local sales tax is even worse - the poorest, even the homeless - pay the same rate as the richest.
Paul Barrett, Shipley
Moves to increase the stamp duty threshold are a cynical ploy to buy votes. Ultimately house prices are set by supply and demand. Increasing stamp duty will simply hand a windfall to owners of houses which currently fall in the stamp duty bands and will fuel further house price inflation. The money would be better spent increasing the supply of affordable homes.
Mike Clubbe, London
As a first time buyer, I would welcome anything to cut the cost of buying a house. Property prices are already through the roof and to suggest that a stamp duty saving of up to £2,000 on houses worth £250k or less would "fuel house price inflation, leading to a crash" is nonsense. It would actually enable me to buy some furniture.
Nick, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Ability to pay? Mortgages are based on ability to pay, and that's why I am still forced to rent. Who are all these people living in large houses and claiming poverty? Local income tax will further postpone any prospect of me getting on the property ladder. If you cannot afford £250 extra a year then how can you afford a band D house?
Rhodri, St. Davids, Wales
In case anyone in England is wondering what's likely to happen following re-evaluation, our council tax in Wrexham has gone up 20% this year. I'd start budgeting for it now if I was you.
Paul Andrews, Wrexham, Wales
The council tax should be scrapped and replaced by increasing VAT. This would be much fairer. Larger families would contribute more because they spend more on shopping. It makes sense, after all a household with 6 or more occupants require the use of more local services than an elderly couple, for example. Also, this would ensure that everybody pays for council services and reduce the administration costs required to collect the current council taxes.
David, London, UK
I am single with no children and not a pensioner. I bought my flat in 1996. Now it is worth three times the price I paid for it. Yet my income has gone down since 1996. Tell me, Mr Blair and Mr Howard, what your parties are going to do to help me pay my excessive council tax? I cannot claim income support ("too rich to be poor, too poor to be rich"). An unavoidable tax based on income is the only way forward.
Ability to pay? Mortgages are based on ability to pay, and that's why I am still forced to rent. Who are all these people living in large houses and claiming poverty? Local income tax will further postpone any prospect of me getting on the property ladder. If you cannot afford £250 extra a year, then how can you afford a band D house?
A revaluation is totally unnecessary unless you have extended your home - remember that the bands are based on the relative value of your house. This is just a blatant attempt to squeeze more taxes out of almost everyone in England. As for local income taxes - outrageous - I would have voted Lib Dem if it wasn't for this ridiculous policy. How can how much you earn relate in any way to the council services you use? I am sorely tempted to vote Conservative for the first time in my life.
Having read all the comments it looks as though the old poll tax is coming out as the fairest option! Maybe a party can come up with a graduated tax, thereby basing it on ability to pay - but with a cap. What seems so unfair about a local income tax is that there doesn't appear to be a maximum payable; with a cap the middle and higher income families may feel a little less uneasy.
Jo Milner, Brent, London
I don't understand why people talk about usage as being important in assessing how a local tax is paid - we all pay for the NHS, Schools, etc, without necessarily using them - that's how society works. We pay for all these things by means of income tax in the main, so why not the same at a local level? I think what's more important is to ensure councils have their accounts audited thoroughly every year to ensure they are not wasting money. My council has clearly spent a lot of surplus cash on more pointless road works and the like!
Why is council tax evaluated on the market value of our properties? We are supposed to be paying for local services, not because our houses are worth more.
Mark, Romford, England
I'm sick of this talk of ability to pay, when what they mean is gross salary. I am currently paying back the debt I had to accumulate while at university, add this to an extortionate mortgage due to house price rises and I simply don't have the ability to pay. Yet the blunt tool of using gross salary as an indicator suggests I do.
The Republic of Ireland has no council tax yet it has all the services the UK has. We only pay a small fee to have our bin collected. Clearly it's a stealth tax.
I live in a very rural area and cannot see what I am paying for. The only service we actually receive is refuse collection once a week.
I agree council tax should be replaced with a fairer scheme. I live in Brighton but work away from home during the week. As a result I generate one bag of rubbish per week. Why should my neighbours who generate a large amount of rubbish pay the same as me? And why should an elderly, retired couple with no mortgage get a £200 rebate?
I don't even own a home, yet I pay council tax on a property that is owned by a landlord. There are plenty of people like me who couldn't afford to buy a property and are left with nothing at the end of each week. This is grossly unfair.
Derek Johnson, London
Here's a novel idea: let the local council work out how much extra cash they need then divide it by the number of households in the relevant district. Hey presto - an equal tax rate for everyone.
Phil Beharrell, West London
If the Lib Dems tax us on our incomes, in theory someone who wins £10 million on the lottery, moves to a mansion and gives up work to live in on their winnings will pay less than a couple earning £20,000 a year each. How is this fair?
The Council Tax was a desperate remedy to the hugely unpopular Poll Tax and it should now be scrapped, with a return to the rates system, with generous discounts for single occupancy homes and pensioners.
Marquis Holmstreau, Brighton
Why should I pay more for council tax as I earn more than the family next door on a low income? If there are more of them they use more of the facilities. Also if they are not working, they probably make more use of local services than I do. I already pay high taxes and I believe that to base my council tax on my income is not reflective of what it is designed for.
Why should pensioners live in big houses anyway? I say this is another reason they should sell up, move out and down size, so young families can move in. The council tax is fair and the revaluation won't be that bad.
My property was re-valued last year, and went up a band as did about 40% of the properties in our county. I'm paying quite a bit more so don't believe the argument that re-valuation is purely administrative its purely to squeeze more money out of the poor old ratepayer in return for an ever diminishing service from the council.
Richard Parry, Vale of Glamorgan
I respect the Lib Dems' policy of transparency when collecting taxes but I am concerned that their proposals will lead to an additional burden on the finances of my wife and I. Will the Lib Dems scrap other stealth taxes to cover the additional burden placed on us by local taxation?
Michael Gibbons, London, UK
Go back to poll tax. Why should it be based on earnings? No regard is considered for outgoings ie mortgage, car running, petrol etc. Earning potential does not in any way reflect expendable income. I know many pensioners who have a lot more money than me including my own granddad. You are targeting pensioners in your manifestos because, simply the majority of pensioners can be bothered to vote.
Matthew Thomas, Rogerstone, Wales
The recent massive increases in council tax have put a considerable burden on my household. Given that everybody in my street pays the same rate of tax, I can only despair at the unfairness of the current system which requires my elderly neighbours to pay the same rate as our dual income household. The Lib Dems have the right idea!
Daniel Johnson, East Grinstead, England
Bring back the poll tax. The current system penalises those who have stretched themselves to afford a large house. Local income tax penalises someone who have worked hard to get a good wage. The poll tax allows each adult to contribute the same regardless of house, wealth or income.
Why is the rising cost of council tax the Labour government's fault? It is fixed by your local councils of all political persuasion. If you are unhappy with your council tax let your local authority councillors know.
Anthony Gregory, St Neots, UK
Why are the Liberal Democrats so concerned with the Tory policies so much? They aren't the party in power. As for Labour - there is only one certainty if they get into power again - more and more tax rises with little to show for it. New Labour is not interested in working people - they are more concerned with celebrities and the rich. Blair's just bought himself a £3 million property! What would be nice to see is for anybody who owns more than one home to pay more than one lot of council tax!
I accept that we need to pay for local facilities but I am totally disillusioned with the incompetence displayed by those spending my money. The council tax seems to be the fairest way of judging ability to pay and I would hope any re-banding just moves all of the valuations up to reflect current prices. I would not support a local income tax.
Russell Sowen, Devon
Oh please! What is it with everyone in this country at the moment? Why is it you all feel that you should get everything for free while the higher income earners pay for everything? Is this what Labour has done to our society? Are we all a bunch of freeloaders now? Role on the Tories getting in and making people work for their money instead of watching daytime TV.
So if council tax increases with the value of your home, can we expect it to decrease if the housing market crashes?
Andy, Hants, UK
Council tax or local income tax; the critical issue is where the money goes. Any party that comes up with and then implements the eradication of wasted resources at both national and local level will get my vote. I do not want my direct tax bill cutting, but I do want to see real change with how the money is spent.
Richard Love, Woodbridge Suffolk
This tax is supposed to be a charge for local services. Everyone has the same need for police, rubbish collection etc so the poll tax - as unpopular as it is - was the fairest way of charging. High earners already subsidise low and non earners via the regular income tax system.
Michelle, Ashford, Kent
Why should higher earners be hit once again for the cost of services used by lower earners? A fixed charge tax is the only fair option.
It appears there will never be a fair way to tackle council tax, as the council tax helps households with a larger than normal amount of adults, but penalises a single adult in a property. Poll tax helps the single adult in a property, but penalises households with a larger than normal amount of adults. At the end of the day, councils require a certain amount of money to operate each year and they are going to get it in some form or another.
Paul Payne, Harlow, Essex
We live in a village and receive only bin collection here, yet we pay more than most people do that live in the neighbouring city and receive lots of services - it's madness. Surely it should be based on the facilities used. We have no police, no road cleaners, no traffic calming only dustbin collection. It is very unfair to charge us heavily for services we do not get.
We will all have to pay a tax of some kind whatever it is called. The Conservatives won't evaluate it. The Lib Dems want to call it something else. If Labour's true wish is to evaluate how the tax is calculated then I believe this would be the most desirable option. I like the idea of it being based on a combination of household income and household value.
Matt Sampson, Leicester, England
The debate about council tax masks the more serious issue that the costs of state provided services are out of control. Local services have not visibly improved despite rising council tax bills. Most of the money has been used to pay for increased bureaucracy, inefficiency and the final salary pension schemes of a larger number of local government employees. It has also been a convenient way of using local taxation to avoid increases in income tax. Responsible use of taxpayers' money would have avoided the need for this debate.
The current council tax system is unfair, but then as far as I can see neither is the Lib Dems' proposal. They do not seem to take into account the number of dependents who are in full time education when they talk about ability to pay, nor the cost of housing in an area.
Where will the Liberal's "local" income tax be paid to? My guess it will go to unelected regional assemblies in England. Not that "local" then.
Stephen Gash, England
I like the theory of letting poor pensioners pay less council tax, but this shortfall will have to be made up by the rest of us. As someone who can't afford to buy a house at the ridiculous prices these days, I'm afraid that I'm not willing to be one of the mugs that makes up the shortfall in council tax that will appear if we start reducing it for pensioners etc.
Chris Phillips, Woking
People like me who live in rural areas get practically no services at all - I am 15 miles from my library, there are no footpaths, street lights or parks near my house, and I have no children at school. I pay £1,200 per year to get my bins emptied - and since I recycle and compost, it amounts to about one bag every 3 weeks. Councils need swinging cuts, and should be funded by central government.
If you're not happy with your mobile phone provider you can switch to a better service. The council should look after its public - or they will find that people will migrate to other councils and lose key workers and revenue-
Raj Dhokia, Peterborough
Simply abandon council tax, and replace it with a local income tax. The current system is unfair, inconsistent and expensive to administer - simply because it requires its own bureaucracy to support it. Why can't Labour and the Conservatives support this common sense reform instead of introducing complex and expensive measures that seek to compete with it?
Julian Benson, Manchester
I have just accessed the Lib Dems website and looked at their local income tax reckoner. As a single person I will be penalised for living alone and using less services than a married couple jointly earning the same income but using more services. How can that be fair? Also, no allowance appears to be made for expensive areas to live in - ie a £40,000 salary in Mid Wales buys you a great deal more than in London.
Council tax has gone up year on year since its introduction. These rises have supposedly been implemented as a result of increasing costs in refuse collection, policing and the like. Will this revaluation review tell us we are paying the odds or is it just a way of getting over the capped council's need for more money?
Paul, Bodmin, Cornwall
The Tories were vilified for trying to introduce the poll tax, but the fairest way is for the cost of local services to be shared by every person using them. A household of four adults should pay four times as much as an individual living alone. To those who say "what about the poor folk who can't afford to pay?", there are already support systems in place for these people in the form of benefits etc.
Harry Lee, London
The Lib-Dems have it right. Individuals should contribute based on their ability to pay. Under the current system, if ten people were to live in a one room house they would contribute less for the services delivered to all than a lone pensioner living in a ten roomed house. This is totally unfair.
Mike Beddall, Redditch
Here's a novel idea, forget about a tax on the value of the property, forget about a tax on the level of income - why not set up a subscription system on actual usage of council services? A simple swipe card that you can charge up by paying an annual or monthly could be used.
Phil Daw, Cardiff
My city centre flat has greatly increased in value since I bought it 10 years ago. However my salary has not and I can't even afford to pay for much-needed renovations to the flat. My council tax is already a massive financial burden and I am very worried about the upcoming revaluation. Ever-increasing council tax based on property value simply isn't fair to people like me. I wouldn't mind something like the poll tax if it was kept at an easily affordable level - but I have no confidence it would be.
No-one likes paying council tax, but it is the only way to provide for local services. What people don't seem to realise, is that council tax benefit is already in existence for those who can't pay.
Fiona McGregor, Aberdeen
I would favour a formula based on a selection of: number of occupants, number of bedrooms, frontage, number of garages, number of parking spaces etc. If we must have a value based council tax, it makes sense to have it based on reasonably up-to-date values. So I would support a revaluation with the proviso that it is accompanied with a corresponding revision of the bands which ensures that the majority of properties remain in the same band and therefore pay the same tax adjusted only by inflation.
Ian Brown, Derby, UK
The council tax is unfair to single people who get such a raw deal anyway. Scrap the council tax and replace it with a local income tax. At least that'll be somewhat fairer for most.
Dave Evans, Aberdeen, Scotland
You should pay for what you use. I think a menu of items that you wish to pay for should be listed including a base charge (which is explained what it covers). You then tick the box of the service you want and your bill goes up appropriately. For example, I'd gladly empty my own bins and save that off my council tax bill but I'd like to contribute to the upkeep of the parks as I and my kids use them.
Robert Bahrani, London, UK
Council tax is a grossly unfair system. Why should the British people pay tax for something which is, in reality, a necessity? A house is not a luxury item which can justify high taxes such as jewellery or expensive sports cars, it is a necessity of society, and people should not be paying over £1000 a year for the privilege of living in a house which they have already paid for. I pay my income tax to contribute towards public services, and I do not agree with being taxed twice for the same thing.
Tom, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear
A local income tax, would just be another poll tax. I would propose a local income tax paid only by the head of the household.
Nick, Beverley England
The only fair way is to charge people by the number of services used. Therefore parents of children who attend school, use libraries, parks and playgrounds should pay most.
Brian, Lancashire, UK
Inflation has just gone up to 1.9% and has been under 2% for many years now. My council tax went up over 12% 2003, 8% 2004 and 6% 2005. How is this a fair tax when it outstrips inflation? My salary did not go up by anything like this. A local income tax would be fairer rather than this blank cheque.
Daz, Basingstoke, UK
Renters seem to have been totally forgotten in this debate. Most renters wouldn't be able to afford to buy the place they are renting so the value of the property should be irrelevant when deciding how much a renter should pay for local services. To make it fair, it has to be based on the ability to pay.
Dean Gargano, London
Ability to pay should be key to planning taxes for local services. Why do people want to penalise those on lower wages? Paying the same percentage of your salary (rather than the same absolute amount) as everyone else would be a fairer system.
In Wales about 40% of all houses have had their council tax band increased by at least one band. Though not a Tory, they are correct in that this has meant an increase this year alone of £240 in my council tax. I know of no-one in my locality who has not had a similar proportional increase. The same will happen in England. Local tax, as with income tax, must be related to ability to pay.
John Winter, St. Athan, Wales
I never understood the outcry over the poll tax, it was by far the most equitable system ever devised for payment towards local services and facilities. We don't have any children, can't get to the local library during the hours it is open. It seems that the only local services that benefit us are refuse collection, street lighting and street cleaning and yet the two of us have to pay the same for these services as the family next door consisting of four adults and three children. How is that fairer than a per capita system?
Dee, West Sussex
When Michael Howard mentions Council Tax, it reminds me which party brought it in the first place. Also, I think it is absurd to base how much you pay on the valuation of your home. My mother lives in a large house that was bought when she was working but now she is retired her income is comparatively very low. I have in the past been a floating voter, but the policies that the Tories are putting forward make it more likely that I would float down the Nile on a piece of rusty iron than vote for them.
Why should the council tax be different from other tax? If it's fair to tax people income for one sort, why is it fair to tax people's properties for the other? The collecting/calculating of council tax employs several thousand people - that saving alone makes it worth lumping in with income tax.
Jonathan Kelk, Dalry, Scotland
The Lib Dems have got it wrong. There is already an income related tax, it is called income tax. Council tax should look at the usage of services. If you are a yob on a Saturday night you foot the police bill. If you chose to have kids, why am I expected to pay for their education through my council tax?
Here in Holland we do have a sort of council tax also based on the estimated value of the property, but it's literally a couple of hundred pounds a year for an average home. We also have a much broader range of income tax brackets, the lowest being around 15%. The average income is taxed at around 40% but what British people usually fail to realise is that gross salaries are calculated to reflect this. I've not met one single person who complained about their council tax here. Everyone pays, including those on welfare and pensioners, and it seems to be a much clearer and probably fairer way of doing things. I'd like to see the same thing introduced to Britain - where income tax is a lot higher but all other taxes are much lower or scrapped.
Jennifer, Netherlands (ex-UK)
Why should a pensioner who has a lot of money in the bank but little income and living in a 5-bed mansion be subsidised by a group of nurses sharing a three bedroom terraced house in a rundown part of town? That's very unfair but it is the consequence of a local income tax.
The poll tax was actually a very fair tax, based on the number of adults per household. Council tax is based on the facile concept that larger houses use more resources and is adjusted (badly) for single occupancy. Bring in local income tax or properly implemented poll tax again!
It must be abolished, it is so unfair, and particularly for pensioners who should not be forced by the high council tax to move to a smaller house when the family move out. Local income tax is the logical solution.
Frank Johnston, Glasgow
"Scaremongering"? Revaluation or not, bills will rise, it's Labour's way of raising more cash, and we all know they'll need to do so, probably the same time as all those who've borrowed too much feel the pinch. Britain is Booming? For how long?
Peter Collinson, London, UK
Why do we need a revaluation? If the value of my house goes up, I don't use any more services, so why should I have to pay more? Council tax is increased periodically any way. Better to base it on the number of occupants.
LS, Woodbridge, Suffolk
I worked hard at school, then university, and I work hard now. The Lib Dems now want to triple my council tax as a result. Please let me keep some of the money I work for!
There is absolutely no need for any of the parties to have a council tax or a local income tax. If the civil service, the prime mis-users of public money, and ministers, and especially the defence procurement agency were held to account for the money they waste, the money saved would make council and local government tax a thing of the past. Its really time the general public brought these people to account as wasters of public money.
Jim Evans, Brighton, UK
I bought my house from a couple in their 80s last year and I pay the same amount of council tax as they did, even though I have a much higher income. Council tax is not fair on them or the old lady that lives across the road. If your only excuse for wanting a pensioner to pay more is because you are jealous of their house you should be ashamed of yourself. Bring in a local income tax.
Paul, Glasgow: pensioners use the same amount of services I do. However, they have pensions - my workplace pension has been hit hard and the chances of me getting a state one are about nil - and bought houses when they were reasonably cheap. Despite earning enough to be hit very hard by the Lib Dems plans, me and my fiancée are unable to afford a home of our own. Why should someone get something for nothing simply because they're old?
This tax like every other tax is aimed to penalise success if you work hard and reward failure of local councils and centrancils and central government to deliver services cost effectively. Notice how Labour constantly blame the Tories for introducing it, yet Labour use it as a weapon to raise revenue
John Graham, London, UK
Just because homes may be worth more on paper, its dead money, you can't spend it. It doesn't generate more income for the family. It's just another form of "stealth tax".
Mrs T Jenns, Gravesend, England
A local sales tax, as works very effectively in the US, would be a much fairer way. Not regressive as with the current system, and doesn't penalise pensioners and other low-earners unfairly. It would also encourage efficiency in local government.
James, London, UK
Under the Liberal Democrats proposal if you live in a small house but happen to earn above average you will pay above average for the same services as the mansion next door where the occupants have a low income such as pensioners. This is unfair than the current system.
Lynn Fellows, Birmingham, UK
The current ahead-of-inflation increases in council tax coupled with threatened revaluation makes the old, vilified poll tax seem quite benign!
Ralf, Wolverhampton, UK
History repeating itself? Scotland had revaluation over 40 year ago and the process was scrapped in England after the General Election and a new government entered. This left huge differences in the taxes paid between the two countries, and it is still reflected in the beneficial banding in England today - which was allowed for to cushion the blow.
Tom Morrison, West Dunbartonshire
Scrap the tax - ability to pay is the only way.
Peter Bird, Chorley
Council tax is totally unfair. Just because you have a big house does not mean you have lots of money. Why should you have to pay a higher charge because you choose to live in a bigger house than someone who earns more money than you and chooses to live in a small house? We use the same services, police force etc. The poll tax was a much fairer system. Why should someone who has worked hard to give their family a decent life and who pays 40% tax have to make further higher contributions because they live in a bigger house?
Ian Smith, Harlow, England
The Lib Dem local income tax replacement for council tax is yet another transfer of money from the productive to the non productive sectors of society. With two children - aged 19 and 22 - at home, my family has four working adults to each pay a local income tax. Our council tax would rise from £1,200 to an estimated £2,800 if levied at 3%. Utter extortion: effectively penalising working adults.
Council tax should be scrapped in favour or a fairer scheme. I've been a home owner for four years and every year it has gone up and up. Another Labour stealth tax. I haven't seen any improvement in street cleaning, traffic management or services in general. In fact, in Luton, they are getting worse. Lib Dems have the best policy on council tax: scrap it.
James Bonser, Luton
I cannot believe a word Michael Howard says. When he introduced the poll tax my household was paying £1,800 per year more than we are currently paying. Mr Howard simply wants me to conveniently forget this, does he?
Christopher Linthwaite, Beverley, England
How can a revaluation be unfair? Surely any property tax needs to be based on a fair evaluation of the properties. Any rise in the value of my house is similar to the others in my local area, so the band will stay the same. When Mr Howard brought in theward brought in the council tax, surely he expected regular re-evaluations?
Local income tax will be a disaster for more than a quarter of the population as Mr Kennedy claims. Myself and my wife will end up paying approximately £300 more. Even if my house was rebanded, it comes no where near what the Lib Dems would take from me. Get lost Mr Kennedy.
How can the Conservatives contemplate scrapping the council tax claiming it to be unfair, when it was the Tories that invented the tax. If we elect them into power they will probably stumble from one tax to another like they did last time. The council tax is the fairest local taxation system. If pensioners want to pay less council tax, they should move into smaller houses. And for people to ask for students' opinion on council tax is ridiculous as they don't pay any!
We all have to pay for police, council services, schooling etc. But why is it based on how expensive your house is? My dustbins do not cost more to empty than someone who lives in a council house - my children do not cost more to educate, nor do my requirements for things like the police. We should all pay the same fees for these services. It should not be tagged onto the value of your property, nor the amount of money you earn.
The Lib Dems have it right. It ought to be based on the ability to pay. Perhaps a little tinkering needs to be done with homes where there are two incomes (doing it based on combined income of the household, irrespective of the number of earners where householders can join their incomes together in this part of the tax bill), but the principle is right.
Nicholas, Burgess H>Nicholas, Burgess Hill
The fairest system of local government taxation is to allot cost by usage and ability to pay. It seems to me ludicrous that a family with 4 or more working adults should pay the same as a single widowed pensioner, whilst using 4 times the resources. Local taxation should be related to ones ability to pay and not some arbitrary scheme based solely on the value of your property. These local charges should also be divorced from central government. Labour uses the government subsidies to local councils and capping purely as political tools rewarding Labour councils and penalise all others.
Rodger, Towcester, GB
Why will bills soar if the bands are re-evaluated? This implies council funding will also soar, surely this is controlled by capping and regardless of the bandings the total tax take will increase roughly with inflation. Sounds like more Tory scare tactics (as per Immigration and MRSA).
Kevin, West Midlands
Spend it wisely. In reality it's very inefficient. It's a tax on people (property can't pay taxes) which goes to pay pensions, National Insurance and income taxes of civil servants. It's a taxation house of cards since the properties are owned by the banks (mortgages).
The best idea was the poll tax as it ensured that everyone contributed to the local services. I ealocal services. I earn a large salary compared to the national average, however don't see why I should pay more than everyone else just because I can afford it.
I think it quite fair at the moment because if you can't afford it then you are entitled to council tax benefit.
Kelvin Leek, Chester
The council tax is unfair and a new way of funding local government should be sought. The ever increasing budgets of local councils should also be reviewed and spending capped to stop all escalating costs.
Neill Christie-Hewitt, Leeds
Surely it is now obvious that the fairest system of all was the poll tax. Your local taxes are paid for local services used and to pay on a per capita basis is completely logical and fair. Why on earth should this be based on income? Income has no bearing on one's use of local government services.
Deborah Goodman, Surrey
The whole tax system from income tax to VAT needs to be revised, a flat rate tax for all would be best.
Council tax should be abolished and paid for from central income tax.
The proposed revaluation is a disgrace, and not needed. If council tax had been flat since it was instigated it would be justifiable, but it has already gone up every year with the value of the house, so to revalue houses is to effectively put up council tax twice. Another blatant stealth tax.
Nigel Kembrey, Bristol
We have to pay for our services. Try paying privately for refuse collection, social services, parks, libraries, leisure and so on - see how much it would cost you! As for the way of doing - sorry, but if we've enjoyed gaining capital on our homes then we have to cut back on other things (and I work part time with a young son and no benefits) to ensure fair play.
When I bought my first home in 1988, the council tax (then called rates) was £280. Now it's over £1300 for the same band. Has inflation really been nearly 500% during this period?
Andy, Worthing, UK
Any tax that isn't based upon a person's ability to pay is fundamentally unfair and makes life extremely difficult for people living in expensive areas. Why should Labour refund pensioners £200? Not all of them are impoverished and the ones that are would do just as well under the Lib Dems idea of a local income tax.
Andy Bellenie, London, UK
The council tax and local income tax are both unfair. Everyone who lives in a community gets the same council services. If I were to pay more than someone else, what extra services would I get for my extra payment? None. If you agree that people in larger households use more council services than those in smaller houses then the council tax is the way to go. Local income tax bears no relation to services we get back in return.
Andy K, Berks