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MSE News: Overpaid your council tax? See you in court

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Cutting Tax
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MSE_GuyMSE_Guy MSE Staff
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Cutting Tax
This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

"A London council planned to take three of its residents to court because they paid too much council tax ..."
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  • beecher2beecher2 Forumite
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    A London council planned to take three of its residents to court because they paid too much council tax.

    How Daily Mail of you - they didn't plan to take them to court because they paid too much, they planned to take them to court because of an error. There's a story here about councils refusing to accept that they've made a mistake, and individuals having their hands tight by the rules, but that's not how you portray the story.
  • aldreddaldredd Forumite
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    Agree with beecher2 that the title is a little misleading to the content of the article. But it still beggars belief that councils can just cover their ears and go 'lalalalala' whenever an error has occurred. We see it time and time again. Yes, errors can happen, I accept tha - but councils / government departments etc need to get their complaints handling procedures sorted out once & for all
  • dtaylor84dtaylor84 Forumite
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    The headline appears to portray the story as "MoneySavingExpert.com will take you to court if you overpay your council tax"...
  • ConsumeristConsumerist Forumite
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    All I know is that, had it been me, I would have let them take me to court. Public humiliation usually works well and is also quite satisfying as revenge.
    >:)Warning: In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    There's no enough in the report to be able to see where the blame actually lies.
    The bungling council instead applied this payment, made on 26 April, to cover 1 April-onwards, rather than the amount due for mid-January-onwards, which left them behind on payments in the council's eyes.

    The Council received payment in 2011 but aren't psychic - if they weren't informed the payment was to be split then they can't just assume it was for their previous year. Did they actually advise the council of this before the summons ?

    I've seen plenty of cases where the payments have come in under similar circumstances and been moved only for the person to then complain that it was meant for the 2011 year after all.
    On that date, they paid an additional £200 to clear the 'arrears' but this was still not enough to satisfy the council, who still insisted they pay the £122 fee or be taken to court.

    If the summons was issued then the council are legally able to recover the costs. If they were incurred because the residents had not advised the council of the payments then they were correct in issuing the summons.

    The other issue is if they didn't make the payment for the 2011 year until 26 April then they were almost certainly in arrears for the 2011 year and would have lost the right to instalments on this year by that point, the council would therefore have been justified in using the payment to clear the balance for 2011.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • "We apologise for the inconvenience and stress it has caused. We have arranged for the summons to be cancelled and will be writing to explain this."


    If they're anything like the prats around my way, they'll probably send it to the wrong address.
  • Butterfly_BrainButterfly_Brain Forumite
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    "We apologise for the inconvenience and stress it has caused. We have arranged for the summons to be cancelled and will be writing to explain this."



    If they're anything like the prats around my way, they'll probably send it to the wrong address.


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  • dori2odori2o Forumite
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    CIS wrote: »
    The other issue is if they didn't make the payment for the 2011 year until 26 April then they were almost certainly in arrears for the 2011 year and would have lost the right to instalments on this year by that point, the council would therefore have been justified in using the payment to clear the balance for 2011.

    taken from the report
    Their payment wasn't late as they paid shortly after receiving their first bill as they only moved in at the start of the year.

    So, not only did the council fail to correctly apply the payments ( all monies paid in go against the oldest standing balance at that time) but it seems it took them anything upto 3 months to issue an initial council tax bill.

    The council in our area are just as bad.

    Mum and Dad are both disabled now and successfully claimed CT benefit in September 2009. My Mum paid the council tax bill, as she always did, in full on 1st April 2009, so she was due a refund due to CT benefit.

    At first council said refund not due as it was Mums choice to pay in full.

    They then on 15th May 2010 sent a final reminder to pay CT arrears for April 2010 and May 2010, depite receiving CT benefit. Again the council said the charge was correct as they had no record of CT benefit.

    After 3 weeks of phone calls and letter the council finally acknowledged that, 'there had been a system error', and updated the records. When again asked about the refund for 2009/10 my Mum was told it would be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

    In December my mum and dad got a cheque for £249 for overpaid CT in 2009/10. Their annual bill is £1200 and they were in receipt of CT benefit for 168 days of that year, so how can the refund possibly only be £249.

    Despite numerous letter and calls the council insist their calculation is correct, but refuse to send out a copy of that calculation.

    Court action has now commenced against the council.

    It's not only this that infuriates people about councils, but the attitude of the staff on the 'helpline' at our council.

    I work in a call centre and 1) If I spoke to somebody the way they do at our council then I'd be sacked, and 2) I have pride in my job and try to do everything I can to help people. I couldn't speak to someone that way even if I wanted to.
    [SIZE=-1]To equate judgement and wisdom with occupation is at best . . . insulting.
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  • edited 23 June 2011 at 7:00AM
    CISCIS Forumite
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    edited 23 June 2011 at 7:00AM
    Their payment wasn't late as they paid shortly after receiving their first bill as they only moved in at the start of the year.
    Which still doesn't clarify why they didn't pay until the end of April if they moved in January - if they paid as demanded then why did it take nearly 3 months for the demand to be issued ?.

    The council may have cocked this up but the story is a lot more complicated then the report lets on and without giving a full breakdown of what happened you cannot tell.

    So, not only did the council fail to correctly apply the payments ( all monies paid in go against the oldest standing balance at that time) but it seems it took them anything upto 3 months to issue an initial council tax bill.
    Not always - if a payment is received and the council are not advised where it should go then its at their discretion on how to apply it, especially when at the point it was paid the charge for 2011/12 was already due.
    They had made the additional payment to also cover themselves for April and leave a little left over.
    Which tends to suggest they were late paying the payment due for April by a month and so would have already had the bill for the 2010/11 year for at least a month but again from the information in the article you cant tell (its too vague)
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • gilligansylegilligansyle Forumite
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    I may have missed something, but I got the impression that they paid as soon as they got a bill. They moved in at the beginning of the year, but probably never got a bill until months later. By which time the Council applied it to the current year.
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