If there’s one thing you need to be sure of when it comes to council tax, it’s that you’re in the right band. It’s not something that immediately springs to mind to verify, but it can make all the difference when it comes to saving yourself money.
So how common is it that houses find themselves being charged the incorrect amount? Almost half a million homes in the UK are believed to be wrongly categorised. If you have been affected, you can claim a backdated rebate as far back as 1993, as well as reducing your current outgoings. Many people have claimed to enjoy repayments worth thousands of pounds.
Due to changes made by Thatcher’s Conservatives in the early ‘90s, every home had to be reassessed by councils. Many slipped under the radar due to the size of the task. The help of estate agents and other housing authorities aided the process but it also meant that corners were cut. Detailed information was discarded in a rush to complete the process and as a result houses across the Britain were placed in the wrong band. After the overhaul, the majority of the public did not question the decision and some were left paying over the odds on their residence.
The process of checking if your band valuations are correct is simple. The easiest port of call is on your doorstep. Well, almost – your neighbour’s doorstep. In all likelihood your house will be in an identical band to your neighbours, so will give you a clear indication if you are paying over the odds. If you don’t get on with your neighbours or you feel it is too intrusive to ask, don’t worry. There are websites provided to check this depending on your location. England and Wales use the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and Scotland uses the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA).
The size of the database may mean that – perhaps inevitably – some properties are missed off the list. Again, if this be the case you are still able to find out you band valuation relatively easily. As the new valuations came into place in 1991, by finding what the value of your home was then you are able to see if you are in the correct band. You can do this by visiting sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla as they offer free sales price information that should sufficiently backdate.
It’s crucial that both of the checks are carried out if you feel you are able to make a challenge. The last thing you want is the council to move your, and possibly your neighbour’s, band up rather than down. That wouldn’t make you the most popular person in the street.
Once you are confident you are eligible, contact the VOA or the SAA and they will direct you to the next stage of your claim. If you have collated all of your data but are
unsure whether you have a case to proceed, contact Council Tax Advisors for informed guidance regarding the appropriate course of action.