Council Tax - overcharging

Hi,

I hope this is the right category to post in.
I have a weird situation with my council randomly overcharging/taking fairly large amounts of money from my account. I have been living in my current house with my partner for 4 years and never had a problem until last year.
We pay Council Tax by Direct Debit that was set up on my partner’s name. Last year we have been randomly charged large amounts of money without any letter or warning. What’s interesting is, that my account was charged even though the Direct Debit was set up on my partner’s account and when he went there to explain the situation, they were not even sure why the money was taken from my account! The cancelled the Direct Debit and set it up from scratch after it happened 3rd time and it seemed like the issue was resolved, but today they charged us again - £600!
There were always delays in getting the money back, sometimes we had to wait WEEKS and they either provided a cheque, transferred the money back or made an overpayment on our council tax. We spent hours on the phone or talking to them in person, really frustrating. It’s worth noting the once the money was transferred to my partner’s account even though the overpayment was made on mine – I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s weird?
So far, it happened 4 times:
  • 09/09/2019 - £150
  • 05/12/2018 - £600 (!) – this one was the worst. The money was taken before Christmas and we didn’t get it back until the end of January, I think. I remember that we went on holiday in January and being £600 short wasn’t ideal, so we were using my credit card just in case and I hate using it.
  • 17/06/2019 - £320 – again, we were abroad at that time, so not ideal.
  • 02/12/2019 - £600 (!) – my partner will call council today and we will see how this goes

To be honest, I wanted to do something about it last time, but I was busy and forgot about it. However, it happened AGAIN and it’s really getting annoying. Is there anything I can do to perhaps get reimbursement for the inconvenience? I feel like raising a complaint won’t really do much.
Luckily for us, we didn’t have any financial issues because of that, but imagine something like happened to a person that actually struggles financially?

Comments

  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    edited 2 December 2019 at 6:57PM
    For the instalments to change a demand notice has to be generated to give 14 days notice, whether that demand notice hasn't (for some reason) been issued is another matter. The system will tell them when the money has been taken, it's typically just a case of people not being able to record the transactions (they're all logged). Problem is, from the tax payers point of view, that it can be a difficult system to get your head around (after nearly 2 decades working with it I still sometimes have to stop and think). I've had to draft more than one formal complaint for clients on similar issues.

    Do you receive council tax reduction ? (universal credit etc).
    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.
  • Hi,

    Thank for replying. The problem is, that they are charging us on top of the regular payments. For example, we pay around £145/month (direct debit - partner's bank) and yet they charged us additional £600 (taken from my account!) for December. It's not to cover any outstanding payments etc., it's literally random. They can't even explain why we are being charged and they couldn't even confirm how they got my bank details, I never paid for council tax using my card or direct debit, it was always on my partner's account.

    We have no tax reductions, it's only me and my partner living in this property (no dependants), we both work full time.

    Is it even worth raising a complaint or doing anything else that will lead to me getting a reimbursement or is is a complete waste of time?
  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Is it even worth raising a complaint or doing anything else that will lead to me getting a reimbursement or is is a complete waste of time?
    If you were a client of mine asking this I'd say it was certainly worth drafting a complaint to try and see what's been happening - it can be difficult as an outsider to try and push them to get to the bottom of it . In nearly 20 years of dealing with council tax disputes I've not come across a case yet where anything like this has happened without something having updated the system to change the instalments (how or why is another matter) and thus being fully logged at their end.
    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.
  • My partner called them yesterday and apparently they couldn't see anything in the records - no change in instalments nor any record of the payment itslef. I will definitely go to CAB tomorrow and see what they say as well.
  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    snow23 wrote: »
    My partner called them yesterday and apparently they couldn't see anything in the records - no change in instalments nor any record of the payment itslef. I will definitely go to CAB tomorrow and see what they say as well.

    I'll tell you now that CAB will not be able to add any extra - they're great at dealing with the basic things and negotiating debt payments etc but this is well outside of their area of expertise.

    If the payment has been taken and it's not on that council tax account then it has to be going to another account - the councils systems will not take a payment by DD without allocating it to an account, the council tax system's don't allow it.

    The only way forward is to make a complaint and start digging for more information.
    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.
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