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Council tax Exemption/ SPD Review and CRAs
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# 1
Old 21-02-2013, 10:36 PM
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Default Council tax Exemption/ SPD Review and CRAs

Hi everyone, not too sure if that's the correct place to post this but hope you can help.

I’m claiming student council tax exemption and just received a ‘review of entitlement’ letter from my council asking me to confirm how many people are living in the property. The thing is my gf moved into the flat in Jan, and we’ve been slacking and haven’t registered her in the council yet, cause it happened just after Christmas so money was an issue and thought we’ll do it in Feb and backdate the council bill to Jan.

I read that for reviewing CT exemptions councils use Credit Reference Agencies who then disclose lots of details about you to councils, and my gf lived with me already 1 year ago, but then we split up, she moved out but kept all of her correspondence coming to my address, so all bank statements and letters, mobile phone bill, basically everywhere she had my address as her main address. And after a while we started seeing each other again etc, she’s been staying at my place a lot, so now my question is will the council not decide that, as she has had all her ‘financial life’ at my address, she had been living with me all these months before she actually moved in? The thing is she is not able to provide previous address, as in all places she’s been staying at she’s never registered in the council (though the flats were paying CT bills etc).

Does anyone of you know how this Ct exemption review works from CRA's side?Theoretically they may say that I’ve not been the only occupant of the flat, since my gf never changed the address and used it for banking and work related correspondence. If we return the form they sent with her details and state that she moved in in Jan will they still dig to see if Jan was actually the date she moved in? I’m really concerned how to prove she wasn’t living with me, as all ‘evidence’ proves she was registered here. Or am I workgn about that? The fact that I never registered her in Jan doesn’t help either. Or is it better to ignore the form they sent, and let them remove my CT exemption? Will they still be looking into the history of the address using CRAs, or am I just a bit too paranoid and read too much Orwell?

Thanks for reading and your replies.
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# 2
Old 25-02-2013, 1:52 AM
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The longer you leave it, the bigger the eventual bill is going to be. I don't know if you'll be able to 'prove' your g/f moved out or not, but I think you'll find that just asking for your single person discount to be removed won't be enough, because everyone who lives in a property is usually 'jointly and severally' liable for the CT, so by making it clear you're not living alone any longer they'll want to know who else they could chase if you don't pay.

Why not start with a phone call asking how they would treat this situation?

Another comment: I'm not sure if it's up to them to prove your g/f WAS living with you, or for you to prove that she was not ...
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# 3
Old 25-02-2013, 9:13 AM
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I'd just tell them the truth, that she moved in in January
(assuming this is the truth).
Did you tell them when she moved out originally? Did you give them a new address for her then? Just stick to telling them when she moved in, presumably if they want to they can then ask more questions and she can let them know where she was staying. Is she a student? if not then she should get Single person discount. If she is then just produce her student exemption. Job done.
I think you're over thinking it to be honest.
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# 4
Old 25-02-2013, 5:27 PM
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Where your post goes is only one indication of your residence. Presumably she had a different primary residence while you were split up, was she registered there or have proof that she lived there?
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# 5
Old 25-02-2013, 10:20 PM
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Hi all

thanks for replies. Probs the best thing to do is talk to council. and I'm probs overthinking this as well. She doesn't have any other address to prove she lived there, we split up, she went to stay at her friends' place, and pretty shortly after that we came back together so she just left all the correspondence at my address and never changed to any other places. And in the other places she lived at she never registered in council either. So it kinda looks she might have been staying at my place. I came accross this article about councils checking how many ppl are living in a flat using credit reference agencies and started creating a picture in my mind where they know that she has had a lot to do with this flat, so they will assume she has been here all this time. But then I'm thinking they can't do that, it's just too extreme. So the best thing to do is just tell what happened, we'll probably end up paying fine for not letting them know earlier that my circumstances changed, but I guess it's fair.
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Fire Fox
Old 26-02-2013, 12:53 AM
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Your thoughts are not extreme: I would be concerned they have been watching your movements. They can't fine you randomly, they can ask for what they believe is backdated, if they believe you have lied or misled them they can take you to court. The most serious accusations are basically tax evasion or fraud.

What you deem living together/ someone's main address is not necessarily the same as what the powers-that-be deem to be living together/ main address, ie. having a key to another property or having a sexual relationship. They absolutely can base their assessment on a number of factors: where people's mail goes, where they store their personal belongings, how many days a week they stay overnight in the same property, whether they grocery shop cook and eat together.

Doesn't your girlfriend have tenancy agreements? Was she not named on any bill anywhere? Where was she registered to vote (a legal requirement)? If you have none of these I honestly don't see how she actually had a permanent or main address anywhere other than your home.
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Last edited by Fire Fox; 26-02-2013 at 1:00 AM.
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# 7
Old 26-02-2013, 1:28 AM
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Watching just one episode of the BBC TV programme "Saints & Scroungers" will give you some insight into how much "data matching" is available to your local council.
On the face of it your girlfriend is the one who has been evading her tax obligations (assuming she is not also a student). Presumably the flat is self contained and you own or rent it in your name? (ie it is not a house in multiple occupation).
At the moment this minor tax evasion looks to be a simple office based data exercise, but is your girlfriend ready to prove where she has been living for the last year and her tax status at these addresses, when asked ?

If you scroll up to the first green bar in the forum above and click Forum Search you can then click to Advanced Search and enter CIS into a search of Saving Tax by User Name.

CIS is a forum user who does work for a local authority tax collection department and you will find a view from the other side of the fence, including several where students run up against the taxation realities of daily life.

Last edited by John_Pierpoint; 26-02-2013 at 2:10 AM.
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# 8
Old 26-02-2013, 10:19 PM
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Hi Fire Fox, John_Pierpoint, thanks for replies. To be honest, if council asks for proof of other address it will be difficult to present. My gf did not register to vote anywhere in the last year (last time she did it was in 2010 or 2011 when she was living in a different flat in a different city), she did not have bills in her name or a tenancy agreement. she was staying at different friends' places, so really changing flats now and then. Plus she's been staying in my flat a lot as well. So I kinda see where the council is coming from. But in the other flats she's been cotributing to council tax so it would be unfair if the council said she should have paid CT for my flat as well if she was staying here 4 nights a week, at least that's how I see it. Another thing, some councils do not necessarily require you to provide previous address, or aren't too fussy about it, so maybe they can't be bothered with it as soon as you confirm to them that, yes, your exemption should have ended in Jan, then they backdate your bill to the date you provided and they add the second person on it. And they also have a high success rate for their SPD/ exemption reviews. Or is it just wishful thinking?
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# 9
Old 27-02-2013, 9:22 PM
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If she moved in in January, then just give the council the date she did move in. They may well ask where she was living before, and if so then you can provide the appropriate address.

It doesn't even matter if she wasn't listed on the bill at the previous place, as long as the bill was being paid correctly at the other place. Lots of people move in and out of houses shared with friends, multiple occupation houses, from or to members of their family etc all the time, so it's not unusual. I've done it several times!
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