Deadline restricts local tax appeals

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COUNCIL Tax Legal Services, an independent consultancy, is claiming that the 30 November deadline for appeals against council tax valuations is unnecessary and has been designed to restrict the extent to which valuation changes can be backdated to 1 April.

Alan Murdie, a barrister and a partner in CTLS, says that the tax is hitting the disabled and pensioners living in low-value property.

'Disabled persons living in Band A properties are denied the 'reduction for disabilities' which is provided for disabled people in higher valued property,' he said. 'And many pensioners whom the Government sought to help with the poll tax have found the council tax has meant a return to high bills associated with the rates - with the scope to reduce them, through a change in valuation,limited.'

Many people do not understand the appeals process. CTLS, which publishes a guide to appeals, is reminding people that they can take their case to a valuation tribunal. Mr Murdie says the appeals process has put the onus on taxpayers to ensure that they have been correctly valued, yet not all taxpayers have the resources to see through a year-long tussle with listings officers and tribunals.

He said: 'Many people seem unaware of their right to go to the valuation tribunal and the tone of correspondence from listing officers can sometimes lead to appellants withdrawing unnecessarily.'

Cutting Your Council Tax - a Guide to Appeals, pounds 6.25 (inc p+p) is available from CTLS, PO Box 2764, London E9 7EJ.

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