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Council Tax Information Letter 12008

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Council Tax Information Letter 12008 Powered By Docstoc
					                                       COUNCIL TAX AND NON-DOMESTIC RATES COLLECTION
Council Tax                            RATES 2007/08
Information Letter                     Statistics on council tax and non-domestic rates collection for
1/2008                                 2007/08 were published on 18 June. Local Government Minister,
                                       John Healey MP, praised councils for improving the council tax
                                       collection rate for the eighth successive year. The in-year
                                       collection rate in England last year was 97.1 per cent, up 0.2
The topics covered in this letter
are:-                                  percentage points on 2006-07, and 0.7 percentage points up on
• Council Tax And Non-Domestic         five years ago.
    Rates Collection Rates 2007/08     Details can be found in the CLG News Release on our website
• Enforcement After Imprisonment       using the following link:
• Enforcement Through the County
    Courts                             www.communities.gov.uk/news/localgovernment/846711
• Appeals Direct
• Update on Other Legislative
    Changes                            The tables with the detailed figures can be accessed via the
• Council Tax and Flooding             following link:
• Students
• Court of Appeal - Chilton-           www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/ctax/cp078.htm
    Merryweather (Listing Officer) V
    Hunt
                                       ENFORCEMENT AFTER IMPRISONMENT

                                       We have been asked about the position concerning council tax
                                       arrears when someone is released after imprisonment for non
                                       payment of council tax. The Department’s view is that the council
                                       tax legislation does not provide for any further enforcement action
                                       against the debtor once the debtor has been released from prison.
                                       Regulation 52 (relationship between remedies) of the Council Tax
                                       (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 is relevant to
                                       this issue.
                                       It is the Department’s view that in such a case it is for the local
                                       authority concerned to decide whether to write the debt off and to
                                       satisfy itself that it has the powers necessary to do so.

                                       ENFORCEMENT THROUGH THE COUNTY COURTS

                                       Following John Healey’s speech to the LGA on 1 July, CLG will be
                                       working with the Ministry of Justice on possible additional
                                       enforcement options for non-payment of council tax. These
                                       changes would require primary legislation.
                                       In particular, it may be possible to give local authorities access to
                                       Third Party Debtor Orders, by allowing enforcement proceedings
                                       to be transferred from magistrates’ courts to county courts.
                                       The courts could then freeze assets, and subsequently order
                                       debtors’ banks to pay the amount outstanding.

                                       We are not contemplating removing magistrates’ courts’ powers to
                                       commit someone to jail for wilful or culpable negligence resulting
                                       in non-payment of council tax.
APPEALS DIRECT

In the spring of 2007, the Government announced, in its response
to the Appeals Direct consultation and analysis of consultation
responses, its intention to implement Appeals Direct for Council
Tax (in relation to banding appeals).

Appeals Direct for handling council tax proposals and appeals in
England was introduced on 1 April 2008. The relevant legislation
is the Council Tax (Valuations, Alterations of Lists and Appeals)
(England) Regulation 2008 (SI 2008/315). The new process does
not alter the circumstances in which a formal request to review a
council tax band can be made, but does give the taxpayer
the option of deciding whether they want to make an appeal to the
valuation tribunal if after the VOA has reviewed the banding, they
disagree with the VOA’s finding. Under the old process the case
was automatically forwarded to the tribunal even if discussions
with the VOA were ongoing or the taxpayer had no wish to take
the matter to appeal.

Further details can be obtained from the Valuation Office Agency
(www.voa.gov.uk) or the Valuation Tribunal Service
(www.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk)

The Government has also taken the opportunity to allow electronic
communication in relation to the alteration of lists and appeals
through the Council Tax ( Electronic Communications)(England)
Order 2008 (SI 2008/316) which also came into force on 1 April
2008.

UPDATE ON OTHER LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

CTIL 5/2007 mentioned a number of other forthcoming legislative
changes which were expected to come into force during the
course of this year.

The Council Tax and Non Domestic Rating (Demand Notices)
(England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/387) were laid
before Parliament on 26 February 2008 and came into force on 1
April. The Regulations provide for the inclusion of comparative
information in council tax demand notices issued in relation to
areas which are subject to local government restructuring. The
Regulations also make other minor changes to improve the clarity
of schedule 1 to the principal Regulations, but without changing
the information which must be included in council tax demand
notices.

The Department for Work and Pensions have laid before
Parliament on 19 June, The Employment and Support Allowance
(Consequential Provisions) (No.2) Regulations 2008 (SI
2008/1554). Regulation 55 amends the Council Tax (Deductions
from Income Support) Regulations 1993 to provide for deductions
to be made from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for
council tax enforcement. ESA replaces Income Support on the
basis of incapacity and Incapacity Benefit for new claimants from
October 2008. The Regulations, for the purposes of regulation 55,
come into force on 27th October 2008.

Further minor consequential amendments to the Council Tax
(Discount Disregards) Order and the Administration and
Enforcement Regulations are now expected to be made later this
year.

The Local Government Finance (England) (Substitution of
Penalties) Order 2008 (SI 2008/981) came into force on 1 May
2008.

The Order increases the level of penalties, in line with inflation,
that a billing authority may impose on a person for failure to
provide information requested to identify who is liable for council
tax on a dwelling or for failure to notify the authority that a council
tax discount or exemption should not apply. The Regulations
increase the penalties from £50 to £70 for failure to provide, when
requested by a local authority, information to identify the person
who is liable for the council tax and from £200 to £280 for failure to
notify the local authority that a council tax discount or an
exemption should not apply.

COUNCIL TAX AND FLOODING

John Healey has also highlighted the support that has been made
available by the Government to help those affected by flooding
during the past year. Details of the help the Government has made
available a can be found in a CLG News Release on our website
via the following link:

www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/8601971

The Minister recently wrote to the local authorities most affected
by last year’s flooding, and reminded them of the powers available
to them under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act
1992. He encouraged them to set local discretionary discounts
that they can use to help council tax payers whose homes have
been affected by flooding, and undertook to provide additional
financial support for those authorities where Class A exemptions
are expiring after the year allowed, but where the properties
affected are still uninhabitable.

STUDENTS

Finally, we are holding an informal review of the student discount
disregard and exemption. We have had helpful discussions with a
number of stakeholders including the Department for Innovation,
Universities and Skills, the Department for Work and Pensions, the
Home Office, the LGA and local authorities with high concentration
of students living in their area. We will continue to work with
stakeholders over the summer to explore the issues and consider
the feasibility of option for change to make the administration of
the discount disregard/exemption easier to do. There are no plans
to remove the disregard/exemption from full time students.
                               COURT OF APPEAL - CHILTON-MERRYWEATHER (LISTING
                               OFFICER) V HUNT

                               There are limited circumstances in which council tax payers have
                               a right of appeal. One of these is where there has been a
                               reduction in the value of the dwelling due to any change in the
                               physical state of the dwelling’s locality.

                               In Chilton-Merryweather (Listing Officer) v Hunt and others the
                               High Court found that “a change in the physical state of the
                               dwelling’s locality” (for the purposes of s24 of the Local
                               Government Finance Act 1992) could include factors such as
                               increased noise or fumes resulting from intensification of the use
                               of a road, and accordingly determined that appeals made by four
                               taxpayers based on increased disturbance from the M61 since
                               their properties were originally banded were validly made.

                               The VOA made an appeal which was heard by the Court of Appeal
                               on 9 July and a decision is expected shortly.




Hitesh Darjee
Council Tax Policy
LGF CTM
Zone 5/E2
Eland House
Bressenden Place
LONDON SW1E 5DU

council.tax@communities.gsi.
gov.uk

www.communities.gov.uk

August 2008

				
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Description: Council Tax Information Letter 12008