Council tax appeals fewer than expected

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The Independent Online
THE NUMBER of appeals against council tax assessments is well under the original estimate made by the Inland Revenue, writes Neasa MacErlean. So far only 500,000 people have lodged appeals, although the Revenue initially predicted about one million appeals.

Appeals have to be lodged before the end of November. The first hearings are not likely to be heard until the autumn. In some regions they may not be heard until the end of the year - a possibility that alarms the consultancy and lobbying group Council Tax Legal Services (CTLS). Len Lucas, a spokesman, said: 'The public are going into this process fairly blind whereas all the professionals can talk to each other and exchange information.' CTLS is collecting information from members of the public who are appealing.

The group plans to publish an overview that will be used to update its guide, Cutting Your Council Tax. The group, which also lobbied over the community charge, predicts a range of problems - delays in handling appeals, a lack of information from the authorities and a lack of consistency among the appeals tribunals.

Mr Lucas has, appropriately, appealed against his own council tax assessment. He lodged his appeal on May 4 in Finsbury Park, London, but nearly seven weeks later has not received an acknowledgement, which should be sent within four weeks. He said: 'This is pushing back the appeals process. You don't know where you are. If people aren't being told what's happening now, it means that there are going to be repercussions in future.'

CTLS is run on a part-time basis by Mr Lucas and two barristers, Alan Murdie and Hugo Charlton.

For further information contact Len Lucas on 081 986 3231.

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