Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has warned town halls against "cheating" council tax payers by using a loophole to dodge referendums on hikes.
The coalition has been urging local authorities to freeze the levy again this year, insisting a public vote should be held to approve any increase above 2%.
However, only around a third are expected to hold council tax steady amid claims that services are becoming too stretched.
There is speculation that many could impose a 1.99% rise, while others are looking at pushing up the waste and transport elements - which lawyers suggest may not be included in the cap.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Pickles warned that "those who put up their stealth tax by 1.99% in a bid to avoid our 2% referendum threshold need a reality check".
"We will take into consideration anybody cheating their taxpayers," he said. "Anybody using loopholes will lose out next year."
He went on: "What residents really want is cuts to taxes not bin collections; potholes filled not pockets. Councils that put their people first will get the idea. To those that don't we're sending out a message loud and clear. The days of the knee-jerk tax and spend hike are over."
Mr Pickles said he was not completely opposed to tax rises - but insisted council should have to win the public over.
"Authorities have a duty to support their residents," he said. "I don't have a problem with councils that want to put up council tax if they have a good reason, to fund local opportunities.
"If the public believes you've got a sensible case they might well listen. But councils should also stop treating residents with contempt."
Tax tricks to improve your wealth
Councils warned not to use loophole
If you wear a uniform of any kind to work and have to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may be able to reclaim tax paid over the last four years. For some people, this could mean a windfall worth hundreds of pounds
The interest you receive on savings accounts (with the exception of cash Isas) is automatically taxed at a rate of 20%.
Higher-rate taxpayers therefore tend to owe money on the interest they are paid throughout the year. If, however, you are on a low income or not earning at all, you should be able to claim all or some of the tax deducted back
You can apply for a refund of vehicle tax if you are the current registered keeper or were the last registered keeper of your vehicle that no longer needs a tax disc
If you pay tax on a company, personal or State Pension through PAYE (the system employers use to deduct tax from your wages), you may well end up overpaying
There is a limit to the amount you need to pay in NI, whether or not you work for an employer.
Instances in which you may find that you have overpaid include if you work two or more jobs and earn more than £817 a week and if you move from self-employment to employment, but continue to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions