Practice note 4: revenue cases - disclosure of information on comparables
The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual used to assess Capital Gains and other taxes.
1.1 This Practice Note gives guidance on the information about comparable transactions which caseworkers may disclose to a taxpayer (or their agent) when endeavouring to negotiate an agreed valuation or apportionment in a Revenue case.
1.2 The VOA’s policy on the disclosure of information relating to evidence of comparable transactions held on Particulars Delivered (PD) forms has recently been reviewed in order to facilitate agreement of valuations for tax purposes, particularly those required as at 31 March 1982, whilst ensuring appropriate safeguards concerning the identification of individuals.
1.3 For evidence obtained from Particulars Delivered (PD) forms the particular factors to be taken into account vary according to the date when the transaction recorded on the form took place:
a) The policy relating to transactions which took place on or after 1 April 2000 is set out in paragraph 3 below.
b) The policy relating to transactions which took place before 1 January 1985 (which are particularly relevant to the agreement of valuations as at 31 March 1982) is set out in paragraph 4 below.
c) inThe policy relating to transactions which took place between 1 January 1985 and 31 March 2000 is set out in paragraph 5 below.
1.4 The policy relating to disclosure of evidence obtained from other confidential sources (eg. valuations agreed in other cases) is set out in paragraph 6 below.
2. Information Which May be Disclosed
2.1 Within the constraints imposed upon us by the need to safeguard the confidentiality of taxpayer information, the VOA’s general policy is to be as open and as helpful as possible. Whenever possible caseworkers should reveal full information about the evidence on which their valuations are based.
2.2 With the above in mind, caseworkers should note that they may now disclose any of the following:
a) Information obtained from PD forms relating to any transactions which took place on or after 1 April 2000 and are included on the open Land Register (see paragraph 3 below).
b) Certain information obtained from PD forms relating to transactions which took place before 1 January 1985 (see paragraph 4 below).
c) Information obtained from PD forms relating to transactions which took place between 1 January 1985 and 31 March 2000 in an anonymised form (see paragraph 5 below).
d) Information obtained from any other confidential sources (eg. valuations agreed in other cases) in an anonymised form (see paragraph 6 below).
e) All information obtained from non-confidential sources, eg. auction results, press reports etc (see paragraph 7 below).
3. Particulars Delivered - Transactions on or After 1 April 2000
3.1 For transactions which take place on or after 1 April 2000 the price paid for an interest in property which is either freehold or a long leasehold is now included in the Land Register for England and Wales (this information has been publicly available in Scotland since 1617). As the information held on the Land Register is available, on application, to any member of the public, the price paid for a property is now in the public domain and no longer confidential. (The Land Register has been open to the public since December 1990 but prior to 1 April 2000 details of the price paid were not included in the entries on the Register.)
3.2 Although the Land Register only records the details of the most recent transaction, once information is in the public domain it is deemed to remain in the public domain. Consequently, if the price paid for a property has appeared on the Land Register at any time since 1 April 2000 it is still deemed to be in the public domain, even though it may not be included in the current Land Register entry for the property concerned.
3.3 For PDs relating to transactions on or after 1 April 2000 caseworkers may therefore now disclose any information that would be (or would have been) available to members of the public via the Land Registry. For transactions which are included on the Land Register the information available to the public will include:
a) The date of the transaction.
b) The address of the property.
c) The interest transferred.
d) The name and address of the purchaser.
e) The price paid.
For most transactions caseworkers will be able to disclose all of the above information as recorded on the PD form. However, caseworkers must take care not to reveal any information on the PD form that may not be included on the Land Register. Detailed guidance on the information that may be disclosed is contained in Appendix A.
4. Particulars Delivered - Transactions Before 1 January 1985
4.1 The price paid for a property in a transaction which took place before 1 April 2000 is not available to the public from the Land Registry and disclosure of such information is therefore covered by the VOA’s general policy on disclosure of information. A summary of the policy and the circumstances when disclosure of information is allowed is set out in Appendix B. However, it is acknowledged that this can cause some difficulties where an historic valuation of an interest in a property is required and the VOA is unable to share information about transactions in comparable properties from sources available to it which, if it could disclose them, would facilitate agreement with the taxpayer or agent and avoid unnecessary reference to the Lands Tribunal. The VOA will therefore now be prepared to share certain details for relevant transactions provided they took place before 1 January 1985. This cut off date has been selected because most historic valuations relate to 31 March 1982 and in most cases it is unlikely that any later transaction will have any material relevance to a 31 March 1982 valuation.
4.2 For PDs relating to transactions which took place before 1 January 1985 caseworkers are, subject to the conditions in paragraph 4.3 below, now authorised to disclose the following information from the PD form:
a) The date of the transaction.
b) The address of the property.
c) The interest transferred.
d) The price paid.
4.3 The information listed in paragraph 4.2 above may only be disclosed if;
a) it relates to properties, properly comparable with the property being valued, which the caseworker would wish to rely on if the case were to proceed to the courts for determination and
b) the names and addresses of the vendor and purchaser are not disclosed and cannot be identified from any other information the VOA has disclosed.
4.4 If, during negotiations, taxpayers or their agents request details of the sales of specific properties, which they believe have been sold before 1 January 1985, caseworkers may provide information about these sales, in accordance with the above guidelines, provided it is considered that the request is reasonable and relevant to the valuation under consideration. If a caseworker considers that a request is unreasonable advice should be sought from DV Services CEO Revenue Section. Caseworkers are not expected to carry out searches in response to blanket requests (eg. a request for all sales in Roads X, Y and Z between stated dates).
5. Particulars Delivered - Transactions between 1 January 1985 and 31 March 2000
5.1 Information relating to the price paid in transactions which took place between 1 January 1985 and 31 March 2000 is not available to the public from the Land Registry and, because it will include some relatively recent transactions, it is considered that disclosure of the information without the express consent of the parties or an order of the court would not be appropriate. However, caseworkers are, whenever possible, encouraged to give taxpayers or their agents limited basic details of sales in an anonymised form.
5.2 Even if we are prevented from disclosing full details of a comparable transaction it is often helpful to taxpayers or agents if we can at least provide some limited details about the information we hold. Whilst it will of course never be possible to disclose both the sale price and the address of a property we may in some cases be able to disclose a combination of some or all of the following details:
a) The sale price or rent payable.
b) The approximate date of sale.
c) The road or a general indication of the location (eg. the suburb, village or town).
d)Basic details of the property (eg. the use of the property and the floor area or number of rooms).
e) An analysis of the price or rent per square metre or the investment yield.
f) The source of the evidence (ie. was it an open market sale or an agreed valuation).
5.3 Whether we can disclose the actual sale price or rent for a particular comparable has to be considered alongside the other information we are proposing to disclose. In some cases it will be possible to disclose the actual sale price or rent providing that the property is not so physically unique in the location quoted that it would be possible to identify the property from the details disclosed.
If the transaction related to a factory and there was only one factory in the location quoted, or only one factory sold or let in that location around the date quoted then it would not be appropriate to quote the sale price because it would be possible to identify the actual property concerned. In such a case the sale price could be quoted but the area or dates revealed would have to be widened so as to make it impossible to identify the particular property concerned.
If the sale related to a detached house and there were several other similar sized detached houses in the same locality which had been sold in the relevant period then it may be possible to provide more information about the properties concerned. For example, it may be possible to say to the taxpayer that we have the following sales information:
|Location||Date of Sale||Property||Sale Price||Area||Source|
|Daveytown||May 1999||3 bed detached house||£300,000||125sq m||PD|
|Tongebridge||April 1999||4 Bed detached house||£360,000||150sq m||Agreed valuation|
5.4 When giving basic details in an anonymised form caseworkers must take care to ensure that the details given do not enable the recipient to identify the actual property concerned. Before disclosing any information caseworkers should ask themselves, if they were the recipient of the information, could they identify the actual property concerned. If it is possible that the information given may enable the recipient to identify the actual property concerned then the amount of detail given must be reduced.
6. Disclosure of Evidence from Other Confidential Sources
6.1 Details of valuations agreed in other tax cases are covered by the general policy on confidentiality outlined in Appendix B. Details may therefore only be disclosed without the taxpayer’s consent in the limited circumstances referred to in paragraph 1.4 of the Appendix.
6.2 Details of valuations agreed in other non-tax cases (eg. a valuation agreed in a compulsory purchase case) should not be disclosed to a taxpayer or agent unless the written consent of the client on whose behalf the VOA were acting has been obtained.
6.3 Information contained in Rent Returns, FORs and NRSIs is obtained by the VOA under powers contained in Rating legislation for the purpose of compiling Rating Lists. The VOA’s policy is that this information should not therefore be disclosed to taxpayer’s or agents for non-rating purposes.
6.4 However, as with confidential PD information, caseworkers are not prevented from giving taxpayers or their agents limited basic details of information from any of the above sources in an anonymised form, providing that the details given do not enable the recipient to identify the actual property or individual concerned. (See paragraphs 5.2 - 5.4 above.)
7. Evidence from Non-Confidential Sources
7.1 Evidence obtained from non-confidential sources, eg. reports of auction sales and published press reports (including deals reported in Estates Gazette Interactive) are freely available to the public and there are therefore absolutely no restrictions on disclosing information obtained from these sources.
7.2 When caseworkers are using comparables obtained from confidential sources (eg. PDs falling within paragraph 5 above) they should whenever possible check whether details of the transaction concerned have been reported in the press. If so, then caseworkers may refer to the publicly available information rather than giving anonymised details from the confidential source.
8.1 When disclosing information about comparable evidence caseworkers should disclose details of those transactions which are considered to be the most relevant to forming an opinion of value of the subject property at the relevant valuation date. Caseworkers should not limit the selection of comparables to those which are the most helpful to their own valuation. The aim should always be to give a fair and balanced picture of the available evidence.
8.2 If any difficulties are encountered or if any further guidance is required on any of the contents of this Practice Note then advice should be sought from DV Services CEO Revenue Section.