4. Background notes
4.1 Data definitions
All data are based on the actual amounts received from taxpayers, and are net of all discounts (e.g. 25 per cent single person discount) and exemptions. Surcharges are also excluded where possible. (see footnotes in tables for details).
All figures are net of discounts (e.g. single person discount) and exemptions. They are after Council Tax Benefit/Reduction and exclude Water and Sewerage Charges; are before any amounts written off for bad or doubtful debt; and reflect any correction to liabilities made after billing.
For 2011-12 data, local authorities were asked for the first time to identify if their return was compiled on a line by line accounting basis (which provides the collection rate for Council Tax specifically i.e. excludes water and sewerage charges). The line by line reporting method cannot produce a change in overall collection rates (including water and sewerage), but can lead to slightly higher collection rates for the Council Tax element only.
4.2 Data sources
The Council Tax Receipts Return (CTRR) Q4 2019-20 was issued to local authorities in April 2020 and relates to their Council Tax billing and receipts to 31 March 2020, it is expected that the majority of the impact of Covid-19 will be seen in next year's Council Tax figures.
The Scottish Government's CTRR collects data from local authorities on the total amounts of Council Tax billed and the total amounts collected for all years from 1999-00 to date - their continued co-operation is gratefully acknowledged. The number of years covered by this return has been reduced as earlier years collection data is now fairly static. Years prior to 1999-00 have been archived. Data is requested from 1999-00 in line with the Scottish Parliament being established and the period of time over which Council Tax arrears can be pursued.
CTRR is the source of all the data, with the exception of the in-year collection rates for 2005-06 to 2012-13 in Tables 2, 4, and 5, which are the published Statutory Performance Indicators produced by Audit Scotland.
The CTRR data is collected after the end of the financial year, but before audit, and is therefore provisional. These financial returns are approved by local authority directors of finance and follow accountancy standards where applicable. Final audited figures will be published by the Scottish Government later in the year.
As part of the quality assurance procedure, the Scottish Government carries out validation checks on the incoming data to identify possible errors. Potential problems are identified in a number of ways, including comparing the data received to: other known sources; data from previous years; and data from other local authorities. Where appropriate, views are also sought from policy colleagues – for example where a change in the data may be attributable to a policy change. To ensure the data are of a high quality, the Scottish Government then works with the relevant local authorities to resolve any data issues identified.
Further information on Sources, Uses and Quality of Local Government Finance National Statistics can be found on the Local Government Finance Statistics pages of the Scottish Government website:
4.3 Community Charge
Following the passage of the Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Act in February 2015, these liabilities are now extinguished and local authorities no longer have the ability to collect such debts. As a result, from 2015-16 onwards, no data will be collected on the Community Charge.
4.4 Revisions and further information
Any revisions and correction to this publication and previous editions of it are carried out in line with the Scottish Government's corrections and revisions policy:
More information on Local Government Finance statistics at: