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Doubts about Council Tax arrears and SIngle Person Discount review

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Doubts about Council Tax arrears and SIngle Person Discount review

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ganglerigangleri Forumite
2 posts
First Post
MoneySaving Newbie
Hello all, first time poster here and I’d really appreciate some advice on the situation I’ve found myself in.
Back in 2016 I moved out of my flat share as I was planning to move in with my partner, who was the sole occupant in her property and entitled to Single Person Discount on her Council Tax. I notified the Council that I was leaving and gave her address as my new one; also at the first opportunity I put myself on the electoral register at her property and used that address for all my mail, banking, work etc.
Trouble is, the property wasn’t really fit for two people as it needed renovation so we ended up only living in it on and off and mostly staying with her family. Naively I never bothered to check with my partner that she was on top of updating her CT account etc. 
Long story short, we only finally moved in there permanently last year when our child was born.
We have now received a letter from the Council stating that her Single Person Discount is under review as I am listed as living at the property as of February 2020 and I need to provide details of date moved in etc.
Now obviously we’ll have to pay some arrears, that’s fair enough as it was our mistake; however I’m not quite sure how to go about it - I’ve only been living at the property permanently for about one year now but my electoral / credit record for that property goes back almost four years. I don’t mind paying what’s due obviously but I don’t want to get slammed with a huge four years’ arrears bill for a time when I wasn’t living there full time. At the same time I worry that if I just state I moved in in 2019 the Council might look on the electoral / credit records with suspicion and decide to prosecute us for fraud, in which case I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on as I have no proof I wasn’t living there for that period other than my partners word.
Has anyone been in a similar situations before? Any advice much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

PS I have spoken to the Council of course, they say it “should” be fine to just enter the 2019 date but I’m not too comfortable with just a “should”

Replies

  • CISCIS Forumite
    11.9K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts
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    It is ultimately a matter of fact - you are resident for any period in which the property was your 'sole or main residence' and, for that period, no discount will apply.
    Disputes over dates are very common - I deal with them for clients regularly and each one will rest on the facts of the case. How far  the council wishes to take any dispute varies from council to council. In your case there's a good chance that it will turn in a dispute in which you will need to argue the technical points of 'sole or main residence'.
    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.
  • ganglerigangleri Forumite
    2 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Thank you CIS, not the reply I was hoping for but the one I was expecting. At the moment we’re debating what to do - my partner insists we should stick to the 2019 date no matter what, while I have been more inclined to just date the residence from 2016 and take the loss; the arrears in the worst case would amount to about a grand, which we can just about afford, and I would probably just pay that rather than have to go through court and have to fork out hundreds of pounds anyway for legal fees etc. 
    I was thinking of submitting the form with the 2016 date and simply include a note stating the circumstances and leaving it to them to decide (making it clear that I do want it settled ASAP not trying to argue a point). At least that way they couldn’t come after us on the basis of providing false information as the form would tally with my records.

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