Friday, 16 October 2009

Challenging your council tax banding

Very useful conversation this morning with the Valuation Office Agency about what to do if you think your house is in the wrong Council Tax band. Until now I've been quite confused because I've been told that you can only appeal against your valuation within 6 months - but have then heard of other people who have managed to get re-banded. So, this is how it works:

* key point to remember is that Council Tax banding is based on the value of your property in April 1991; although the sale price since then is relevant evidence, the key question is not what it subsequently sold for, but what it would have been worth in April 1991;

* again, although you can get a very rough idea of a property's 1991 value by applying a general house price index (eg the Nationwide house price index for the South West) to a later sale price, these indices are very rough and ready; the VOA pointed out that you can get different housing market trends between different roads in the same town, so regional averages are likely to be very rough and ready indeed;

* whilst you can only appeal against your banding within six months of moving in, you can make an 'inquiry' if you think your banding is wrong; the VOA will look at your case and if you can convince them that a mistake has been made then they will re-band you; you don't have statutory "appeal rights" as such, but in some cases they can and do re-band people; if the banding was wrong right back to when the tax was introduced in 1993 then you should be able to get the change backdated;

* one thing which can affect banding is a 'material change of circumstances'; for example, if you were banded from April 1991 on the basis of an open country view and then a few years later a factory is built over the road, you may be able to argue that your value has now gone down;

There are two interesting websites to look at if you want to take things further. One is the VOA website where you can see the council tax banding of every house in your neighbourhood and another is (for example) here which gives information on the sale prices of houses in your area. The Martin Lewis 'MoneySavingExpert' website has some helpful advice, though again bear in mind the caveat that using *average* house price indices is a very rough-and-ready approach.

Given that the whole country's valuations were done in such a hurry in 1991, it would not be surprising if a significant minority were only relatively approximate. Whilst that may not matter too much if you are in any case around the middle of a council tax band, if you would have been on the cusp between two bands and ended up in the higher one it might be worth looking at.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

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mewmewmew said...

Very useful conversation this morning with the Valuation Office Agency about what to do if you think your house is in the wrong Council Tax band. Until now I've been quite confused because I've been told that you can only appeal against your valuation within 6 months - but have then heard of other people who have managed to get re-banded.


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mewmewmew said...

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