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Council Tax Appeals

Coronavirus: Council Tax

Council Tax payers who pay their council tax instalments over 10 months can contact us and we will extend their payments to 12 months in the financial year. Please call us on 01283 508030 or email council.tax@eaststaffsbc.gov.uk to extend your instalment payments.

Council Tax payers who receive Council Tax Reduction due to receiving low incomes will soon be entitled to a reduction in their Council Tax via the Hardship Fund recently announced by Government.

We collect Council Tax on behalf of Staffordshire County Council, Fire, Police and Parishes. It is vitally important that Council Tax payers continue to pay in accordance with the instalments shown on their bills so that local services can continue to be provided and vulnerable people in our society can be supported, especially during the current pandemic.

If you are not satisfied with any a decision we have made about your council tax, you have the right to appeal on the following matters

  • a person’s liability to pay the council tax, or whether they are entitled to a discount, or whether the dwelling is an exempt dwelling;
  • completion notice issued by the local council for a dwelling, showing the date the council believe the dwelling is  substantially complete and from when council tax should be paid;
  • penalty notice imposed by the local council for failure to provide some information they have requested relating to the council tax

There are two stages to the appeal process

First stage

If you do not agree with our decision you must make your appeal in writing to us. You must state your name and address, the property address(es) to which your appeal relates, the decision you are unsatisfied with, and why you feel this decision is incorrect. If we need further information from you we will write to you about this.

We must consider your appeal and tell you our decision within two months of receiving your letter. If we agree with your appeal we will amend your council tax account and send you a revised council tax bill. If we uphold our decision we will write and tell you why. If you still believe our decision is wrong, or if we have not dealt with your appeal within the two month period, the matter will then move on to the second stage.

Second stage

The second stage is for you to appeal to the valuation tribunal. You must do this within a further two months. The tribunal is an independent body which deals with settling council tax and business rates disputes. They will ask you to make your appeal in writing to them, again stating the reasons for your appeal. You will need to send a copy of our decision to them if we have made one. The address of the valuation tribunal is:

Valuation Tribunal Service, 3rd Floor, Crossgate House, Wood Street, Doncaster, DN1 3LL

You can also telephone them on 01302 342324 or e-mail vtdoncaster@vto.gsx.gov.uk

You can appear at the tribunal hearing or make a written submission to be heard in your absence. You can also have the whole hearing heard by written representation, but all the parties concerned have to agree to this. Please visit the valuation tribunal website for more information.

The tribunal will contact you to inform you of the arrangements and procedure for a formal hearing. The hearings usually last no longer than one day and will not cause you any expense unless you appoint a solicitor or other body to represent you, in which case you would be responsible for settling their respective fees.

If the tribunal decides in your favour we will make any necessary adjustments to your account and send you a revised council tax bill showing the details and any amounts you need to pay.

If you do not agree with the decision made by the valuation tribunal, the matter can progress to the high court. The tribunal will state the procedures and requirements for continuing your appeal.

Please note that the high court may award costs against the unsuccessful party.

Council Tax and business rates scams

How to identify Council Tax and business rates scams and what you can do to avoid them.

 

Contents

  1. How to identify a fraudulent agent
  2. Types of scams that fraudulent agents may use
  3. How to avoid falling victim to these scams
  4. What to do if you think your Council Tax band or rateable value is wrong

You can challenge your Council Tax band or find and check your business rates for free. You may choose to appoint an agent to carry out this work on your behalf.

If you choose to appoint an agent, you should be aware that there are a number of fraudulent Council Tax and business rates agents operating around the country. Someone may telephone you or appear at your door claiming to be able to reduce your Council Tax or business rates bill.

You can find out how to avoid and report internet scams and phishing.

How to identify a fraudulent agent

There are a number of tactics that fraudulent agents may use to get you to part with your money.

Types of scams that fraudulent agents may use

A fraudulent agent may:

  • insist you’re definitely in the wrong Council Tax band and are owed back payments on your Council Tax bill, when in fact your band is correct
  • say they’re from the local council or Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and ask for your bank details so they can provide a refund, then steal money from the bank account
  • say they’re from the VOA and ask you to pay for an inspection – the VOA won’t charge you for any Council Tax or business rates services
  • claim that the VOA charges you to challenge your Council Tax band - this is not correct as you can do this for free
  • claim that taxpayers must, by law, be represented by an agent to challenge their band, when in fact anyone can do this
  • state that they’re on an approved list of agents recognised by the VOA, when in fact the VOA does not keep any such list
  • tell you they have submitted an appeal to the VOA on your behalf and give you a forged acknowledgment notice when in fact they haven’t submitted an appeal
  • quote the Billing Authority (BA) reference for your property – this is public information and can be found using the online service
  • tell you that they have been successful in having your Coucil Tax band reviewed and provide a forged confirmation email stating the amount of refund due. The VOA does not calculate payments or refunds and if a refund were due, your local council would contact you direct about this

How to avoid falling victim to these scams

You should:

You shouldn’t:

  • give your bank details to anyone
  • let anyone into your home without seeing appropriate identification
  • feel under pressure from a cold caller to pay an immediate up-front fee - take the time you need to think about it
  • accept cold callers’ claims about your band or rateable value without seeing evidence or proof of what they’re claiming
  • deal with anyone that is reluctant to give you their company address or contact details

What to do if you think your Council Tax band or rateable value is wrong

If you think the Council Tax band for your home is wrong, then all you have to do is contact the VOA and explain why you think it’s incorrect. We’ll ask you to confirm that the details we hold about your home are correct. We’ll listen to your views and if, following a review, we agree that your band is wrong, we’ll change it. Please note that bands can occasionally go up as well as down.

If you think the rateable value for your business (non-domestic) property is wrong, then you can use the online service to tell us. We’ll ask you to confirm the details that we hold about your property. Please note that your rateable value could go up as well as down.