Council Tax Manual

Section 2: maintenance of Council Tax lists - billing authority reports and altering lists

The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for assessing domestic property for Council Tax.

Part 1: receipts and reports

1.1 Receipt of reports

Reports will arise in two ways:

Billing authority reports (BARs)

Under the provisions of S.27(6) of the Local Government and Finance Act 1992, Billing Authorities (BAs) have a statutory duty to let Listing Officers (LOs) know of information which they become aware of, which they consider would assist LOs in carrying out their function of maintaining the Council Tax Lists. BAs provide this information on Billing Authority Reports (BARs)

All BARs (in any format) are received and registered at one of the Agency’s Network Support Offices.

Listing Officer reports (LORs)

If a LO becomes aware that the Council Tax List may need to be altered, from sources other than Billing Authority Reports, he or she is required under S.22(1) and S.27(7) of LGFA 92 to review the Council Tax List. These sources extend to schedules of changes from BAs that are not in the form of actual reports. When, on receipt of such information, the LO raises his or her own report, this is called a Listing Officer Report (LOR).

Listing Officer Reports are registered within the appropriate network office.

1.2 Billing authority reports

The Local Government and Finance Act 1992 prescribes no set form of notification. However, reports from Billing Authorities are normally received via:

EBAR system

Billing Authorities are encouraged to send reports via the EBAR (electronic billing authority report) system, which matches to the CDB entry, raises and allocates a Billing Authority Report automatically.

Email

This is now the most common method of notification and receipt. Reports sent by email (not EBARS) must be treated as received on the actual day the message is received, regardless of the time of day. For example, a batch of reports received electronically on 13 May at 23.59 is deemed to have been received on 13 May; a batch received electronically on 14 May at 00:01 is deemed to have been received on 14 May. Reports received during a weekend or on a Bank Holiday should be treated as received on the next working day. On the rare occasion when this occurs, the retained e-mail message should be endorsed accordingly.

All Billing Authority Reports (BARs) received should be recorded by the designated Network Support Offices on the appropriate CT Report Allocation spreadsheets.

Some BAs insist upon submitting schedules of changes and not actual reports. These must be accepted and LO Reports raised for the notified changes (*see paragraph 1.3).

Billing Authority Reports (BARs) must be scrutinised immediately upon receipt at the appropriate Network Support Office for any discrepancies such as incorrect address or reason code. The report numbers will also be examined to ensure that they follow on from those used previously. Any queries or omissions should be resolved by telephone between the Network Support Office and the BA (sometimes in liaison with the appropriate CT Unit or Location office)

The process

The process for dealing with reports, received via the EBAR system, that require manual matching of addresses to the CDB, or for reports received via e-mail or in hard copy, may be found in the Council Tax Process Maps. Additional guidance can be found in the Council Tax Registration Manual produced for use by the Network Support Offices (the NSO Training Manuals can be found here).

1.3 Listing Officer reports

Listing Officers are required under S.22(1) and S.27(7) of LGFA 92 to maintain fair and accurate Council Tax Lists. As well as reports from Billing Authorities (BARs) referred to in 1.2, other sources of information may be brought to the attention of the LO which could result in the Council Tax List being reviewed and updated.

These sources include:

  • requests for review of banding made by taxpayers or their agents

  • knowledge obtained as a consequence of dealing with other reviews, proposals or appeals (valid or invalid) on neighbouring dwellings. This may include noting information submitted as a Taxpayer’s representation that identifies errors or anomalies in the information in our records

  • schedules of changes from BAs which are not in the form of BARs

In cases where it is clear that the entry in the Council Tax List requires review, the LO should raise a Listing Officer Report (LOR) against the property whose entry in the Council Tax List requires review.

LORs, such as those emanating from taxpayer enquiries, must be input onto the central database immediately.

1.4 Council Taxpayer initial enquiries and the creation of LORs

Care should be taken not to raise LORs inappropriately. A taxpayer’s enquiry may not be valuation driven or, if valuation driven, it may be clear that any potential change in value is not band significant. These initial enquiries can often be resolved at the first or second point of contact.

If the enquiry does not result in a formal review of banding it is important that a record is held of the initial taxpayer enquiry on the CDB. In these instances Reason for Report Codes 90 or 99 must be used.

1.5 Raising LORs following receipt of ‘invalid’ proposals

Where an invalid proposal is made by the taxpayer, the LO should raise a report to review the band (see Section 3). This should show Reason for Report code CR15 unless the invalid proposal relates to a new dwelling, a reconstitution or a deletion, in which case the appropriate Reason for Report code should be used (CR03, CR05 and CR01/CR02 respectively). If an invalid proposal is appealed against, the band must be reviewed prior to any VT/VTE hearing.

1.6 Address creation

It is essential to create or amend an address on the CDB accurately to

  • assist customers in identifying properties on an internet search

  • maintain a correct order of list entries

  • enable SDLT matching (automated and manual)

  • facilitate efficient searching of the database for current work purposes

When a new BA Reference Number is required, this should be requested from the BA by telephone. If the BA requires a written submission, letter VO7487 from MS Word Template may be used.

For requests to enter a new dwelling into the Council Tax List, the postal address of the new dwelling will first need to be created on the central database.

1.7 Reason for report codes

Every report (BARs and LORs) must be allocated a ‘Reason for Report’ code when entered onto the CDB. A complete list of Reason for Report codes is provided in the CT Mini Work Aid. Their use is mandatory and must not be varied locally. Billing Authorities are not obliged to use them but they need to be input appropriately whether supplied or not. If codes are not supplied, LOs will need to arrange for the reports to be annotated with the appropriate Reason for Report code prior to input.

1.8 Sifting reports

It is the responsibility of the Council Tax Referencing Manager to monitor outstanding reports through the CS1 spreadsheet. This will ensure that all work is allocated to the appropriate grade of staff.

1.9 Inputting reports

All BARs (in any format) are received and registered at one of the Agency’s Network Support Offices. LORs are to be registered within the appropriate network office.

The relevant information shown should be loaded (magnetic reports) or input to the computer within three days of receipt (for BARs). The actual date of receipt of the BAR, or the date originated (LOR), has to be typed in for each report. The date of receipt/origination may be before the date of input, i.e. the system date, but it cannot be later.

All reports for existing dwellings must be linked to the correct address within the CDB so information already held in other applications relating to the same property is displayed. This is particularly relevant when dealing with reports with Reason for Report Code CR10 where the computer will need to search the Property Transactions application for any relevant transaction. For newly built dwellings, an initial search should be made for the address, which may have been created when inputting a sale to Property Transactions. A new address should only be created when searches fail to identify that it already exists in the CDB.

As part of the inputting process, reports must be allocated to a Council Tax team and to a caseworker within that team. Allocating them to a team other than one designated as a Council Tax team can cause delays, particularly in becoming aware that a logged report (Reason for Report code CR10) has been triggered and a working docket is available for output.

The Network Support Offices will allocate all BARs to a ‘designated’ member of staff within each network office (normally a member of the Council Tax casework support team). Before printing the working dockets in the network office, the case owner should then be changed to the appropriate person.

LORs raised in network offices should be allocated to the appropriate Council Tax maintenance caseworker in the first instance.

If the caseworker, to whom the LOR is to be allocated, is not known at this stage, 999 can be input in order to progress to the next field. However, this must be amended as soon as the papers have been allocated to a caseworker.

Remarks should also be input where these are supplied on the report and these will then be output on the working dockets. This reduces the need in most instances to attach a copy of the report to the case papers. The inputting of any remarks which have been supplied is particularly crucial where the Reason for Report is CR10.

The computer will generate the report number for LORs.

Triage codes reflect the complexity of Council Tax reports and are linked directly to timeliness, inspection policy and caseworker grade. The reports that are measured for elapsed time and those that are excluded from elapsed time are shown in Appendix 2.1.

The five triage codes are:

Triage 1 - Straightforward ‘off the desk’ cases.

Triage 2 - Non-inspected (simple & complex).

Triage 3 - Simple inspected.

Triage 4 - Complex inspected.

Triage 0 -This is for Working In Advance (WIA) cases where the effective date is later than the registration date.

When a report is registered on the CDB the ‘Triage Type’ field is automatically populated as a result of the ‘Reason For Report’ code that is allocated. The ‘Default Triage Codes’ and their respective ‘Reason For Report’ codes are shown at Appendix 2.2. It should be noted that all reports, whether or not they currently count towards the elapsed time target, are given a Default Triage Code.

Triage code timescales

Triage 1 = date of next available schedule – unless this is within two days of receipt in which case the date will then default to the next available schedule - a further 7 calendar days. After that the case will show as overdue.

Triage 2 = 14 calendar days.

Triage 3 = 28 calendar days.

Triage 4 = 35 calendar days.

Triage Code Timescales are NOT targets in themselves; they provide general guidance and enable work to be progressed and monitored through the CS1 spreadsheet.

The ‘default’ triage codes allocated should be reviewed by Referencing Line Managers and Case Owners and amended if appropriate to do so.

1.10 Cancellation of Listing Officer reports

Once the information from the LOR Request has been input and the LOR number generated, the report exists and can never be removed. It can only be cleared by altering the band appearing in the List or by a formal No Action. The only changes permissible are the addition of another address where, on inspection, it is found that the address to which it has been linked is not the only one involved in the change, or exceptionally a change of address where it has been linked to the wrong address. The report number can never be cancelled or reused for another completely different report.

1.11 Liaison with billing authorities

As part of their Service Partnership Agreement with the VOA, some BAs have asked to be supplied with details of reports raised.

A letter VO7491 can be obtained from MS Word Template to list them. This avoids the need to send copies of reports to the BA.

1.12 Reports for review

Working dockets VO7453 are automatically generated and output by the computer. Network offices are required to print out working dockets VO7453 on a daily basis.

By selecting the Print Working Dockets option from the menu the operator activates this function. An operational requirement of the system means that separate batches must be requested for each team. The batch will include working dockets for all reports activated since the last batch for that team was requested, including reports with Reason for Report code CR10 which have been triggered by relevant transactions (see Part 2). Schedules to working dockets (VO7454) are also produced where there is additional information which is not shown on the working docket.

Where remarks have been input as described in paragraph 1.7 above, they will be output to the working docket. No ‘Remarks’ section will appear on a working docket when none have been input.

Because of operational limitations, the earliest date working dockets can be output by batch is the next day following input of the relevant reports. Dockets can be requested for output on an individual basis on the same day as the report is registered.

No working dockets will be output for reports which have been registered and then reported immediately using the “Hot Key” functionality.

It is also possible to print out working dockets for selected outstanding reports, either singly or in batches. This action can be undertaken before the batch output is activated or at any time thereafter whilst the report is outstanding. Outputting a working docket before the batch run has no effect upon the contents of the batch, which will therefore include a duplicate in such instances.

Subsequent instructions are given in Part 3.

1.13 Storing of actioned reports

It is necessary to retain requests from Billing Authorities for audit purposes. These should be held in the format indicated below:

EBAR system

Requests via the EBAR system will automatically be stored within the central database. No further action is required

Email

Following input, requests received via e-mail are processed by the appropriate Network Support Office and saved in the P drive.

Hardcopy

Following input, hardcopy requests should be scanned at the appropriate Network Support Office and the scanned image stored by them into the respective network office ‘P’ drive. With EDRM, hardcopy originals once scanned, can be destroyed.

Part 2: logged CR10 reports (structural alterations - potential increase in band)

2.1 Background

S.24(4) (a) of LGFA 92 provides that no increase shall be made to a Council Tax banding of a dwelling following structural alterations (“material increase”) until the whole or part of that dwelling is sold (“relevant transaction”) or there is a general revaluation of all dwellings for Council Tax purposes.

Practice Note 3 expands on the definition of ‘material increase’ and ‘relevant transaction’ and provides guidance to caseworkers to implement a band change where necessary.

Where structural alterations are notified to the VOA, the information is noted on the CDB via a CR10 logged report. Should a general revaluation of all dwellings for Council Tax purposes occur, property is valued as it exists as at the date the list comes into force. Therefore any structural alterations are automatically taken into account in the revaluation and there is no requirement to bring forward any CR10 logged reports into a new valuation list.

The logged CR10 report procedures below are mandatory and must be strictly followed in all instances. Where letters are sent to taxpayers, they must be individually prepared with the spaces completed in typescript. It is not an acceptable standard for the information to be inserted in manuscript.

2.2 Targets

LOs are targeted to clear all activated logged reports within the current elapsed time standards. This target includes notification to the taxpayer.

2.3 Computer assistance

The Council Tax application has been designed to recognise reports which are for a “material increase”. These will all show Reason for Report code CR10, whether received from BAs or raised by LOs.

When a report with code CR10 is input, the computer will automatically search the Property Transactions (PT) application for a “relevant transaction” (i.e. one completed after the given effective date of the “material increase”).

If one is not found, the computer will log the report.

If a “relevant transaction” has been input to the PT Application and it has been linked to the same address, the logged report will be activated immediately as a Coincidence of Transaction (COT) case. This does not have to be an open market sale, but includes transactions which have a transaction type of NAL (Not at Arm’s Length) or NMV (Not Market Value).

For statistical purposes, the case is outstanding from the date of its activation, not the date the working docket is output to hardcopy.

2.4 Interface with Property Transactions (PT) application

When inputting transaction details, care should always be exercised to ensure that the correct address is selected for the transaction.

This is especially important when considering the interface with Council Tax, where the input of a “relevant transaction” from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) data could be a trigger for a possible rebanding for CT purposes if there is a logged CT report within the CDB. A “relevant transaction” means a transfer on sale of the fee simple (freehold), a grant of a lease for a term of 7 years or more, or a transfer on sale of such a lease.

The “relevant transaction” can be for the whole of the dwelling or for part only. In the case of composites, the dwelling includes the whole of the non-domestic or exempt part of the composite as well as the domestic part. Stamp Duty Land Tax data for composite properties must always be linked to both the non-domestic and the domestic addresses.

The sale of a Freehold Ground Rent is a “relevant transaction” for CT purposes and a SDLT for such a sale is a trigger for possible rebanding.

The sale of garden land attached to a domestic property which may be for development, road widening, sub-station site, or to another domestic property as additional garden for that dwelling is a trigger for possible rebanding. A similar situation applies if part of a domestic property (e.g. a garage) is sold separately. In these cases, a SDLT must be linked to the appropriate domestic address.

The generation of working dockets following the trigger is carried out within the CT Application.

2.5 Generating coincidence of transaction (COT) working dockets

COT working dockets VO 7453 are output in hardcopy at the same time as those relating to Immediate Review cases for the BA (see Section 2 part 1).

Following output, COT working dockets must be scrutinised to ensure that a transaction has occurred, i.e. that details are shown under “Transaction History”, before being passed to the Council Tax Referencing Manager. It is unlikely that a caseworker other than ‘999’ will be shown on the working docket. Therefore, case details should be amended on the computer to show the nominated caseworker as soon as the case is allocated.

Occasionally, COT working dockets may be output even though a transaction has not been input to the PT Application. The reason for the generation should be investigated before the working docket is cleared as No Action. An example is that an Immediate Review working docket has been generated with an effective date equal to, or later than, the COT working docket effective date.

Such an action prompts the Council Tax application to query whether the report still needs to be logged, and the only way this can be achieved is by outputting a working docket.

On the rare occasion when it is established that the report should still be logged, a LO report must be registered with an effective date one day later than that shown on the COT working docket.

2.6 Initial action with Coincidence of Transaction (COT) working dockets

Cases should be made up in the way described in Section 2 part 3, including the addition of the domestic survey report (DSR) if one exists, and passed to the Referencing Manager or nominated caseworker.

Working dockets can be no actioned where alterations can be adequately identified from either the information supplied by the BA or an external inspection, made adjoining the site when in the vicinity, as being small and not band-critical. Survey particulars must be updated on ELDA and the CDB with the available information, including estimated dimensions.

It is essential that no increase in the current banding is made without contact with the taxpayer to verify the facts. This is to ensure that the taxpayer has been alerted to the situation and does not receive a LO Notification “out of the blue”. The verification may indicate that the dwelling must be inspected internally before the banding can be revised, or that the report is wrong, e.g. a report with a reason of ‘extension’ is in fact the addition of a ‘granny annexe’.

Where no contact has been possible, or the facts have not been verified, and an internal inspection is deemed necessary to deal with a COT report, an appointment must be made. This prepares the way for the caseworker by alerting the taxpayer to the fact that the banding may need altering and explains the legislation. Standard appointment letters should NOT be used.

During the course of the inspection the caseworker should not get drawn into complicated discussions concerning the legislation, but should advise the taxpayer to put comments to the LO either by letter, email or telephone.

2.7 Notification to taxpayers

Subsequent action should be undertaken in accordance with Section 2 part 4.

Where a higher band is warranted, the CDB generated LO Notification must be issued without delay and accompanied by a letter which explains the matter further.

Whilst there is no legal requirement to notify the taxpayer that there will be no change to the banding, it is recommended a letter is sent following any contact with the taxpayer in the interest of good customer care.

Part 3: altering Council Tax lists

3.1 Circumstances when Council Tax lists can be altered

A Council Tax list will always require altering when any of the following circumstances have occurred:-

i) a dwelling has come into existence;

ii) a dwelling has ceased to exist;

iii) there was an inaccuracy in a list on the day it was compiled (currently 1 April 1993 for England and 1st April 2005 for Wales) which needs to be corrected;

iv) a dwelling becomes, or ceases to be, a composite hereditament. Whilst this will always result in an alteration, it will not always result in a band change, but will always result in the addition or removal of a composite identifier in the list;

v) there was an inaccuracy, other than of the type stated above, which requires correction.

A Council Tax list may require altering when the following circumstance has occurred:

vi) there has been a “material reduction” in the value of the dwelling. “Material reduction” is defined in s24(10) of LGFA 1992 as being, in relation to a dwelling “any reduction which is caused (in whole or in part) by the demolition of any part of the dwelling, any change in the physical state of the dwelling’s locality or any adaptation of the dwelling to make it suitable for use by a physically disabled person”. It should be noted that under regulation 4(2) of SI 1993/290 (Wales) and Regulation 3 (3) of SI 2009/2270 (England), where a “material reduction” in the value of a dwelling is caused wholly by the demolition of any part of the dwelling “the valuation band shall not be altered if the works of demolition are part of, or connected with, a building, engineering or other operation carried out, in progress, or proposed to be carried out in relation to the dwelling”. Therefore, if a demolition occurs simply as a precursor to carrying out an improvement, no alteration to the List is to be made.

vii) there has been a “material increase” in the value of the dwelling and a “relevant transaction”. “Material increase” is defined in s24(10) LGFA 1992 as being, in relation to a dwelling, “any increase which is caused (in whole or in part) by any building, engineering or other operation carried out in relation to the dwelling, whether or not constituting development for which planning permission is required”. It should be noted that the term only includes operations affecting the dwelling directly and not changes to the locality. “Relevant transaction” is defined in s24(10) LGFA 1992 as “a transfer on the sale of the fee simple, a grant of a lease for a term of seven years or more, or a transfer on sale of such a lease”. This circumstance is described more fully in Section 2 part 2.

viii) there has been an increase or reduction in the domestic use of a dwelling which is a composite hereditament.

ix) correction of errors (see 3.2.1 – 3.2.4 below)

x) an order of the VT, VTE or High Court requires the alteration to be made.

Guidance on the correct effective date to be adopted is given in Appendix 2.3.

3.2 Altering bands

Section 24 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations about the alteration of lists by Listing Officers (LOs). S22(1) of the 1992 Act gives LOs a dual task - to compile and then maintain, a Council Tax list for each BA for which they are appointed as LO under S20 of that Act.

Maintenance means making sure, within the parameters of the legislation, that the list is accurate for the whole period for which it remains in force, and so the LO is under a duty, whenever he/she considers that the list has become inaccurate, to make such alterations as are necessary - and will be effective - to correct that inaccuracy.

Legislation applicable to Wales - Regulations were made by the Secretary of State – the Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) Regulations 1993 (1993 SI 290), and regulation 4(1)(b) replicates section 24(4)(b) of the 1992 Act. The 1993 Regulations were subsequently updated by The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/181 (W.14))

“No alteration shall be made of a valuation band shown in a list as applicable to any dwelling unless -

b) the listing officer is satisfied that–

(i) a different band should have been determined by him as applicable to the dwelling; or

(ii) the valuation band shown in the list is not that determined by him as so applicable ;or

c) an order of the valuation tribunal or of the High Court requires the alteration to be made.”

Introduction of the 6 year backdating rule in Wales: An amendment to the 1993 Regulations was effected by The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Regulation 2(2) substitutes Regulation 14 of the 1993 Regulations with regard to effectives dates. Where an alteration is made to correct an inaccuracy and the inaccuracy is that the original list showed the valuation band as being too high, then the alteration has effect from the later of the day on which the list was compiled and the day six year earlier than the day on which the alteration is entered in the list. See Appendix 2.3 for a summary of effective dates.

Legislation applicable to England –Similarly, The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2270) Regulation 3(1) (b) states;

“No alteration shall be made of a valuation band shown in a list as applicable to any dwelling unless-

b) the listing officer is satisfied that–

(i) a different valuation band should have been determined by the LO as applicable to the dwelling; or

(ii) the valuation band shown in the list is not that determined by the LO as so applicable ;or

c) an order of the VTE, a valuation tribunal or of the High Court requires the alteration to be made.”

3.2.1 Application of legislation

The tenor of the legislation is weighted against frequent and unnecessary alterations of bands, particularly upwards, hence the cross-referenced heading of Reg 4 (SI 1993/290) and Reg 3 (SI 2009/2270 England only) Restrictions on alteration of valuation bands. The following advice, however, should be adopted when the LO is considering list alteration.

3.2.2 Alteration following agreements

Where in Reg 4(1)(b)(i) (SI 1993/290) and Reg 3 (b)(i) (SI 2009/2270 England only) the regulation uses the words “determined by” the LO, in relation to a band, it is not necessary to read them as solely applying to original, compiled list bands, but can also apply to determinations by agreement, provided it was not determined by a VTE (England), VT or High Court. The regulation does not specifically prevent correction of an error after an agreement has been made.

In the event of an alteration following an agreement, a LO is “determining” a new valuation band, thus a band can be “determined” by the LO by agreement, as well as by primary valuation. Where that agreement has been made in error, the error can be corrected.

This would include circumstances where the band is incorrect because information has been ignored, has not been produced, has been misrepresented or has been incorrectly interpreted.

3.2.3 Alteration to correct clerical errors

Reg 4(1)(b)(ii) (SI 1993/290) and Reg 3(1)(b)(ii) (SI 2009/2270 England only) is designed to be used to correct clerical errors, for example transposition errors between what has been determined and what actually appears in the list.

3.2.4 Following a VT, VTE or High Court decision where the list has been altered

In these circumstances, where the list has been altered by direction of the court, then it cannot be said to have been determined by the LO. As such an alteration will have been made specifically under Reg 4(1)(c)(SI 1993/290) and Reg 3(1)(c) (SI 2009/2270 England only) where “an order of the VTE, a valuation tribunal or of the High Court requires the alteration to be made”, no subsequent alteration of the list under Reg 4(b)(i) or (ii) and Reg 3(b)(i) or (ii) is possible.

If a LO did make such an alteration, he/she could be accused of attempting to usurp the function and powers of the VT or the VTE.

3.2.5 Following a VT / VTE or High Court decision where the band has been confirmed

The same principle will apply in the circumstance where a case has been heard, and where the VT/VTE has made a decision confirming the band. LOs should treat the decision as having similar status as above, i.e. determined by VT. In this situation, the LO will have been expected to have fully examined the evidence carefully before presenting the case, and the resultant decision itself, under the principle expounded in Domblides v Angell 2008, will take on a status equivalent to ‘tone of the list’ in rating, which subsequent Tribunals, when hearing similar cases, would be expected to follow. In this case, therefore, it would be inappropriate for LOs to alter the list. The full transcript of the Domblides case is available.

3.2.5 Contradictory VT / VTE decisions

There have been circumstances where a VT/VTE has made a decision on a property, say a flat within a block, and at a later date makes a contrary decision on another flat in the block, leaving the first flat at a higher band and still subject to the earlier VT/VTE decision. Where the LO is satisfied that the second decision should be adopted to maintain the list, the appropriate way of correcting the list is through an affected taxpayer making a proposal under the ‘relevant decision’ procedure under the Appeals regulations - England Reg 4(e), Wales Reg 5(e).

Such a proposal will be made following a change in the factual pattern of banding in the locality, and must be made within six months of the second VT/VTE decision, and quote that decision as a reason to correct the list. Where the proposal is correct in all respects as to band and effective date, the LO may well found that proposal, serve a Decision Notice, and alter the list accordingly. The authority of the VT/VTE’s second decision will then be reflected in the list alteration without an appeal having to be made.

3.3 Logging CR10s when conceding for lack of modernisation

Where a reduction in band is conceded because of a lack of modernisation, in comparison with the standard character of similar properties reflected in their bands, a CR10 should automatically be logged.

This will trigger a banding review when the next relevant transaction takes place, so that LOs can ascertain the extent to which, if any, the value of the dwelling has been increased by any subsequent material increase through “building, engineering or other operations carried out in relation to the dwelling” S24 (para 10 LGFA 1992)

3.4 Share transfers not relevant transactions

Transfers of shares in a property are no longer considered to constitute relevant transactions for the purposes of S24(10) LGFA 1992 following the decisions of the Court of Session in Scotland in the cases of Grampian Valuation Joint Board Assessor v Macdonald and Same v Benzies 2002 RA 63. Although the wording of the regulations in Scotland differs, the legal effect is the same, and has been adopted in England and Wales.

The Macdonald case concerned a dwelling that had been conveyed by the executors of the estate of the late Mrs Macdonald to her two sons equally. One share was transferred by one of the beneficiaries to the future wife of his brother, the co beneficiary, for consideration of £35,000. It was agreed that alterations to the dwelling prior to the transfer of the share were a “material increase” and the sole issue was whether under the Scottish regulations the dwelling, or any part of it, “has subsequently been sold”.

In the Benzies case the same point of construction arose, but in the context of the transfer of a share in the matrimonial property between husband and wife as part of a divorce settlement. A sum of £20,000 was said to represent the net equity value of the wife’s one half undivided share.

The Court decided in both cases that the sale of a “severable proprietorial share” in a dwelling was not a sale of the dwelling. There are no grounds to distinguish the decision from equivalent legislation in England and Wales.

Transfers of “slices” of additional share in the freehold interest under the provision of ‘buy-rent’ staircasing schemes are also no longer to be considered as a “relevant transaction.”

Sale of a fee simple subject to a long leasehold interest for consideration will still be a “relevant transaction” and if two properties are exchanged, even with little or nil equality of exchange consideration, that transaction will fall within the definition.

A “right to buy” purchase will be a “relevant transaction” even though the taxpayer remains unchanged.

3.5 Splits and mergers

An alteration to the list following a division of a hereditament into two or more dwellings or a merger to form one dwelling will always be treated as a new dwelling coming into existence in the legal sense, but care must be taken to adopt the correct effective date. If the split is as a result of applying the disaggregation principles (See PN5) the effective date will be date of schedule. Similarly where aggregation is either implemented or removed (See PN6) date of schedule should be adopted.

Where works have taken place to create two self contained units, and following works of re-conversion a merger is possible, the whole dwelling will be treated as a new dwelling and banded, including the former annexe area and any improvements. Such circumstances are outside the parameters of material increase which would await a relevant transaction.

The general principle was confirmed in R v East Sussex Valuation Tribunal ex parte v Silverstone 1996 RVR 203. Regulation 3 of the 2009 Council Tax (Alteration of lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations replaced regulation 4 of the 1993 regulations, still applicable in Wales. The substance is the same and deals with circumstances restricting alteration of bands, including material increase and relevant transactions. Carnwath J as he then was stated ‘…Regulation 4 applies to the alteration of a valuation band for a dwelling already in the list; we are dealing with the removal of two existing dwellings and the inclusion of a new dwelling, and the determination of the appropriate band for that new dwelling. Regulation 4 does not apply.”

Thus a merger of dwellings, however originally created, will constitute a new dwelling. It cannot take account of the material increase provisions under regulation 3.

Further, regulation 11(10) referring to effective dates, also clearly refers to the fact that any dwelling subject to disaggregation or aggregation should be treated as a new dwelling coming into existence. (It should be noted, however, as explained above that amendments to the regulations have subsequently been made to require that the effective date of disaggregated dwellings must now be date of schedule and not date of coming into existence).

3.6 Considering appeals

The legislation has provided an appeal procedure to the High Court (HC) only on a point of law. It is inappropriate for the LO to attempt to override it administratively. If a VT/VTE decision is thought to be perverse and could not reasonably have been reached on the basis of any evidence presented to the VT/VTE, and the LO considers that an appeal to the HC should be made, the procedures in Section 3 part 5 need to be followed.

3.7 Applying VT decisions

When a band is reduced by the VT/VTE the LO will normally apply the decision to other similar dwellings in the immediate vicinity where identical valuation factors exist at the relevant date, and the evidence used to support the alteration is also applicable. There may be rare circumstances in which the LO is of the opinion that application of the decision to other dwellings would compromise the accuracy of the list.

3.8 Increasing bands

When anomalies in banding have been brought to the attention of the LO by a third party, it is imperative that the LO is satisfied that any increase to the band is fully supported. Only where there is compelling evidence that a dwelling clearly falls into a higher band should an increase be considered. Contact with the council taxpayer must be made before service of a LON increasing the band is issued. See also para 3.9 below.

3.9 What is a ‘consequential’?

A ‘consequential’ is a property that requires a band change as a direct and obvious result of a verified band decision (up, down or no change) on a nearby property (the ‘subject property’). Consequentials should be processed as CR16s. If you identify a property that does not meet one of the tests below, it is not a ‘consequential’. A review can still be undertaken, but recorded as case type CR09.

Consequential ‘tests’

To simplify the process of identifying consequentials, there are three tests:

Test 1 - the ‘evidence test’

Can the evidence used to band the subject property also be used to band the consequential? If you have to look for further evidence to help with the banding decision, it is not a ‘consequential’. This would be a CR09.

Test 2 - the ‘location test’

Is the property in the immediate vicinity of the subject property?

Test 3 - the ‘property test’

Is the property similar in size, character and accommodation to the subject property? Remember that all of the tests are decisions to be made using your valuation expertise.

Action when dealing with ‘consequentials’

You must:

  1. Be satisfied that the originating review is correct and notify line manager of proposed action.

  2. Identify consequentials at the time you deal with the original review, proposal or appeal.

  3. Note the addresses of consequentials on the Council Tax Valuation Sheet (CTVS) of the subject property.

  4. Register a CR16 for each consequential, no later than at the point of clearance of the original subject case or report. The origination date must be no later than:

the date the information was gathered, or the date of inspection, if inspected.

As part of the process, you must send the appropriate letter/s to each property that is to be reviewed, these should be created from templates in EDRM.

3.11 Multiple band reviews (increases and reductions)

Where the Caseworker or Referencer is satisfied that there is potential problem, then the complex caseworker or Team leader should be informed, check the originating case, and oversee the assembling of all the evidence to establish whether further action is required.

The general policy expectation is that there should not be “mini revaluations”, and any such review would only be undertaken where the circumstances indicate that the stability of the list in a wider locality than the immediate estate is at risk. Just as when considering the banding of a single dwelling, changes should not be contemplated without a thorough and full investigation of all the evidence and circumstances that might lead to a more widespread review of bandings in a neighbourhood.

The regulations concerning alteration of bands have a restrictive effect in that LOs cannot alter a banding which has been subject to a VT/VTE decision.

As a matter of policy, where a band has been previously reduced by notice arising from a VT/VTE decision or an agreement, then such a band should not be altered unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary.

Consideration of multiple reviews may arise from proposals or taxpayer’s correspondence where apparently different value dwellings are in the same band or where apparently similar value dwellings have different bands applied to them.

When looking at inconsistencies, it should be remembered that the regulations allow physical improvements in a locality to be reflected in new developments, which may not have been reflected in older developments. Also reductions conceded concerning physical changes that now no longer exist, cannot be reviewed and restored between revaluations, unless the dwelling has been subject to a material increase and relevant transaction. Concessions for lack of modernisation may be disguised by material increase improvements.

3.11.1 Helpful tools

  • Appendix 2.9 provides an aide-memoire setting out factors to be considered when carrying out multiple band reviews.

  • A spreadsheet can be used to record a full and detailed review of all the various types of property in the street and immediate locality in summary form to facilitate analysis of the information.

3.11.2 Escalation

Consideration must be given to whether multiple band changes may be handled under existing escalation procedures. A decision to use the formal Escalation Process needs to be made on a case by case basis, in conjunction with the Team Leader and the Listing Officer. A risk based approach should be taken to the decision-making: there may be occasions when only two consequentials could have a high impact, and should therefore be escalated. Equally, a higher number of consequentials could have a low impact, and might not need to be escalated. The valuation decision should always rest with the Listing Officer and the Escalation Process should ensure that appropriate handling strategies are in place.

3.11.3 Principles to be applied

1) Carefully analyse primary evidence to establish that the properties are clearly and without doubt wrongly banded.

2) Have the original bands been in place for such a length of time as to become part of the overall list pattern, or is the error obvious for all to see?

3) Is “correction” absolutely necessary to maintain the viability and credibility of the list in the immediate locality?

4) Assess what would actually be likely to happen on a “live with” approach.

5) Record a full and detailed review of all the various property types in the street and immediate locality on the spreadsheet.

6) If there is no primary sales evidence on the estate, then turn to the next nearest comparable estate to establish the likely pattern for bandings.

7) Make any necessary adjustments e.g. for garages, that might otherwise distort the analysis, to ensure a ‘like for like’ pattern for bandings.

8) Establish a clear pattern which the comparable evidence suggests and compare that with the bands in the list.

9) The Team leader and LO must be satisfied that the existing situation really cannot be ‘lived with’, as the viability and credibility of the list will be threatened.

12) When all the information and analysis has been completed the Team Leader or LO should be satisfied that he/she would personally defend the case at VT/VTE.

3.12 Completion notices

There are two ways a dwelling can be shown in a list. Firstly, by coming into existence as a dwelling, and secondly, where the building is not quite completed, by the BA serving a completion notice. If a LO is in doubt as to whether the building is sufficiently complete to constitute a dwelling, the BA should be asked to issue a completion notice before the list is altered. The law in this regard was examined in the case of RGM Properties v Speight LO 2011.

The owner of a dwelling under construction might, to avoid an unoccupied Council Tax liability, choose to leave it not quite complete until assured of a purchaser or tenant. The LO would be unable to enter a band in the Council Tax List because a dwelling has not been completed or come into existence. To prevent this, the Rating Completion Notice procedure described in Schedule 4A of Local Government Finance Act 1988 has been imported into Council Tax procedures by S.17 of LGFA 1992.

A BA is required to serve a completion notice on the owner of a new dwelling when it comes to their attention that the work remaining to be done is such that the dwelling can reasonably be expected to be completed within three months. The notice will state the date (the “completion day”) when the BA considers the dwelling can reasonably be expected to be completed. This can be the date of the notice or any date up to three months in the future. The non-liable period of six months runs from the completion day.

Following service of a completion notice, the owner and the BA may agree a completion day different from that shown in the notice. Provision is also made for the owner to appeal to the VT/VTE. The LO is not involved in such an appeal.

Where a completion notice is served and the dwelling is not complete on or before the completion day, the building, or any part of it, that is a dwelling, is deemed to have come into existence on the completion day. Therefore, these dwellings should be banded and entered in the list with the completion day as the effective date. If the building is in fact complete, any dwelling that forms a part of this building, will have already come into existence and the deemed completion will no longer apply. The effective date will then be the day it was actually completed.

3.12.1 Effect of a completion notice

BAs are required to supply the LO with a copy of any completion notice served, details of any agreement on a completion day, and advise when a completion notice has been withdrawn (para 7 Sch. 4A LGFA 1988). A completion notice must be accompanied by a BA Report. In normal circumstances, the copy completion notice and report should not be submitted more than 10 working days before the completion day as a banding cannot be input with an effective date in the future. LOs must not, however, refuse to accept reports and completion notices simply because they are submitted outside the timescale, and the VOA has introduced ‘Working in Advance’ protocols to deal with such a situation. As the LO is prevented from issuing a LO Notice until the “completion day” has passed, in the event that the completion date is more than 10 days in advance of receipt of the request from the Billing Authority then the report would fail the current VOA target of dealing with council tax reports for new properties within 10 days of receipt. So where the “completion day” specified in the Completion Notice is more than 10 working days in advance of the date of receipt by the LO, the BA report should be registered within the current VOA target (within 3 days of receipt) and when registered correctly will automatically default to a Triage Zero and be excluded from elapsed time. A copy of the completion notice (whether received in hardcopy or electronically) should be stored in EDRM in accordance with the naming conventions set out in the link on the EDRM Homepage. An example of a Completion Notice is included as Appendix 2.4.

3.12.2 Withdrawal of a completion notice

Schedule 4A (3) states, that a BA may only withdraw a Completion Notice by serving a subsequent one in its place. There is no provision for a bare withdrawal letter. Where such a notice is received, the LO should regard the lawful Completion Notice as still being valid and inform the BA of this. Advice should be sought from the Technical Adviser in cases of difficulty.

3.13 Visits to confirm property attribute data

The purpose of a visit to a taxpayer’s property is to obtain the information which is necessary to band a dwelling as early in the process, and as quickly as possible.

As many reports as possible should be cleared “from the desk”, by utilising sources of information other than an inspection, by a member of the LO’s staff. The policy recognises that there is an element of risk in the way in which information is obtained or verified. The VOA Management Board has agreed to carry this risk itself and, therefore, no risk lies with any individual who operates in accordance with the guidelines.

The aim of referencing for Council Tax purposes can be defined as obtaining sufficient information about dwellings :-

1) to enable sustainable bands to be allocated; and

2) to be prepared for other requirements within the VOA’s core purpose

Appendix 2.5 provides a summary of the Agency’s policy on visits.

3.14 BA reference numbers

Requests for bulk BA Reference Number changes should be forwarded to ITSD as these can normally be dealt with as an overnight batch process job.

3.15 Dwelling house codes (property attribute details)

All dwellings must be fully coded in accordance with current instructions (These include the Dwellinghouse Coding - An Illustrated Guide and CT IA 161008). Existing codes should be reconsidered and amended where necessary. If any of the property attributes are estimated, the appropriate ‘source codes’ should also be captured. The amended codes should be entered on the working docket (VO 7453), updated on the CDB (property attribute details) and, if appropriate, an electronic Council Tax Valuation Sheet (CTVS) produced.

3.16 Appointments to visit

Appointments to visit for Council Tax purposes are to be regarded as exceptional and only to be made in very limited circumstances. As many reports as possible must be cleared at the desk or by an external inspection from the road. When a visit is essential, the following procedures must be adopted.

Ideally, appointments should be made in accordance with the commitments set out in the HMRC Charter and VOA Customer Service Standards. Appointments to visit should be made by telephone or letter. In some cases it may be possible to call at the property in order to arrange the appointment, and if the occupier prefers an immediate visit, this can be carried out whilst on-site. Where a date in the future is requested, this must be complied with.

When there is a need to visit in remote rural areas, it is often more economical to make an appointment in advance. Where possible, such appointments should specify the date and an approximate time only, or “am/pm” to allow for flexibility.

It is often impossible to make initial appointments by telephone, as most BAs do not include the name of the taxpayer in a BAR. As part of the ongoing liaison, Customer Service Managers should encourage BAs to supply names and telephone numbers to facilitate the making of appointments, where these details are known to them. It may also be possible to obtain the name of the taxpayer from a transaction which has been input to the property transaction (PT) application.

3.17 Photographs

Digital Photography training is available from your ITSO. A best practice guide for taking and adding photographs to the central database and a digital photography IT user guide are available on the Intranet.

Council Tax staff must always be conscious of the fact that the photographing of a person’s home is a matter that requires tact and diplomacy.

Here are some rules that you must adhere to:

(a) Photographs can be taken from the public highway, but only of features that are visible from that highway.

(b) Photographs taken externally from within the boundaries or curtilage of the plot must only be taken with the consent of the taxpayer/occupier.

(c) No internal photographs of dwellings should be taken for Council Tax purposes except in the rare instance of an internal feature being a factor that could be taken into account when banding, and then only with the consent of the occupier. Such features could include the poor state of repair or the lack of modernisation. Internal photographs should be deleted when they have served their purpose.

(d) Photographs must not include any features that are not relevant to the dwelling, or which could raise questions about their purpose in respect of Council Tax work. Examples are photographs that include the occupier, a car parked in the drive, details of the security system, or valuable items of furniture, jewellery or antiques.

(e) Finally, and most importantly, all photographs must be dated and uploaded to the CDB and, where relevant to the case, a note made as to the content/subject if this is not obvious.

3.18 Training material

A wide range of reference and training material is held on the Council Tax and Housing Allowances homepage and the Learning intranet pages.

3.19 Banding tools

There are a number of tools which should be used to assist caseworkers to determine a Council Tax band. These include:

  • Comparable Selection Tool - This IT application performs automated searches to select comparables to assist in assessing Council Tax bands. This system should be operated in accordance with the Comparable Selection Tool Instructions.

  • MILO - sales evidence. A primary source of domestic sales information around the Antecedent Valuation Date. This is a CDB application available for some locations where selected historic sales can be output.

  • Street Sheets - This is the generic name for the schedule of historic property sales for both domestic and non-domestic property. These are stored electronically as part of the VOA EDRM programme.

  • Digital Mapping – A computer application allowing access to up-to-date Ordnance Survey and other mapping data.

  • Property Related Internet Sites - These include websites that contain aerial, satellite and street level photography; but also cover public sites that hold other property information. There are limitations on the usefulness of these sites and any access must be in accordance with the VOA policy on use of public websites.

3.20 Time limits

Council Tax reports should be cleared in accordance with the current VOA Council Tax elapsed time objective and to the triage code timescales referred to in Section 2 part 1. Although triage timescales are not targets in themselves, they provide general guidance and enable work to be progressed and monitored through the CS1 spreadsheet. CR15 and CR18 enquiries are not included in elapsed time statistics. However, they are subject to a VOA operational target and should be cleared within 2 months from the date of receipt.

Legislation requires decision notices for Council Tax proposals to be issued within 4 months but, again, the VOA has an operational target to do this within 2 months.

3.21 Activity codes

The appropriate activity code must be input to the CDB before a Council Tax report or proposal is cleared. Activity codes provide information on how Council Tax casework is progressed and is used to provide statistical data and for VOA management purposes.

3.22 Quality checking

At least 5% of new or revised bandings must be checked for quality assurance. This percentage is a minimum which should be increased as appropriate where the staff employed on banding are inexperienced (up to 100% for initial training purposes).

A sample of completed cases should be taken, prior to informing the taxpayer of the decision. Where the minimum 5% is appropriate, these should be selected on the basis of every 20th case completed. This sampling rate will need to be increased when the percentage for checking is higher. The checker should be the caseworker’s line manager, usually the Council Tax Referencing Manager.

Errors and discrepancies must be rectified. All changes must be brought to the attention of the caseworker concerned and the reason for the change explained. Where there is a significant and consistent error rate, an investigation will be necessary to discover the reason, and consideration given to retraining where this is ongoing.

As part of the quality checking process, reference should be made to the current Valuation Integrity Standards. This identifies the correct processes that should be undertaken when dealing with all Council Tax casework.

Part 4: schedules of alterations and subsequent procedures including the production of full Council Tax lists

4.1 Description of schedules

Following input, revised data resulting from reports, settled proposals (agreed and well-founded) and appeals (decided by the VT/VTE) is stored in the Council Tax application, ready for inclusion in the next Schedule of Alterations (Appendix 2.6) or No Action Schedule (Appendix 2.7).

Schedules of Alterations are output under various headings. These are identified by the Application from the Notification Change Code which has been selected.

The current headings are:

  • New

  • Deleted

  • Amended

  • Reinstated

  • Minor Address Change

  • Historic New

  • Historic Deleted

  • Historic Amended

  • Historic Reinstated

No Action Schedules contain data relating to reports only, where the report is either not to be dealt with for a variety of reasons or has resulted in no change being made to the entry in the Council Tax List.

4.2 Timing of schedules

Schedules are generated centrally in accordance with the VOA’s Calendar of Overnight Outputs. This is maintained by ITSD in association with HMRC’s IT partner. At least two sets of Schedules are generated each month. Additional sets are arranged to meet central needs and are shown on the calendar. A copy of each update of the calendar is forwarded to BAs by Customer Service Managers as part of the Service Partnerships.

It is possible for an additional ad hoc set of Schedules of Alterations and No Actions to be supplied to meet the one-off need of a particular BA. Local System Administrators should complete an Ad-hoc request for Overnight Generation (VO 9815) obtainable from the forms folder in MS Word Template and forward it by email to VOA IT Help Desk First Line Support. ITSD will make every effort to meet such a request.

4.3 Output

On the morning following generation, the Schedules are available electronically.

A Statement of Numbers and Bands (Appendix 2.8) for each BA is produced as part of the generation.

Following output, the BAs’ copies must be dispatched electronically without delay.

BAs can also download Schedules via the internet from the BA File Transfer System, and then output them to hardcopy or incorporate the data into their systems.

4.4 Listing Officer notifications

At the same time as the Schedule of Alterations is generated, Listing Officer Notifications (LONs) are automatically output relating to each report for which a LON is required. Exceptions, where a LON is not required, are shown on the CT Mini Workaid

Where the DoE code indicates that a dwelling is in Wales, the LON will be produced in both English and Welsh, with headings in both languages.

The texts of LONs are also available from MS Word Template in both English and Welsh for emergency use.

The LONs are:

VO 7701 deletion from the List;
VO 7702 insertion in the List (newly built properties);
VO 7703 insertion in the List (reconstituted properties);
VO 7704 alteration to the List.

The LONs, as generated, will show the LO’s name above the title. There is no requirement for LONs to be signed, either by the Listing Officer personally, or on his/her behalf.

4.5 Dispatch of Listing Officer notifications

Regulation 15 of SI 1993/290 (Wales) and Regulation 12 (2) SI2009/2270 (England) state that the LO must serve notice on the person who appears to be the taxpayer within six weeks from the date of the relevant alteration to the Valuation List. LOs should, however, aim to issue LONs on the same day as the Schedule of Alterations to which they relate is sent to the BA.

A taxpayer can request a copy of a Notice relating to their property, if we have issued it within the last six months. NSO can supply copies of such notices and requests should be referred to the relevant NSO. If you need to verify that the requestor was the taxpayer at the date the notice was issued, you should ask them to put their request in writing and provide us with information (for example a copy of the council tax bill addressed to them at the property) to support their request. If close to the six month deadline, please deal with the request as a matter of urgency. If you have concerns about authenticity, you should escalate the request to your line manager who may seek further advice from CT PPA.

It is the Agency’s policy not to provide a copy of a notice which was issued over six months ago. However, where the information, relating to the service of a Notice, is available the request should be considered as a general disclosure request under the Data Protection Act and/or the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act, subject to the verification that the requester is entitled to be provided with the information. If you have any further queries about this policy please contact CT PPA.

All such requests should be recorded on EDRM.

4.6 Procedures following the settlement of proposals and appeals

Reg 15 of SI 1993/290 (Wales) and Reg 9 (3) SI2009/2270 (England) require the List to be altered within six weeks of an agreement being signed by all parties or of the LO receiving a written decision from the VT/VTE. In practical terms, all alterations should be input to the Council Tax application as soon as they are received. This will result in the revised entries appearing in the next Schedules of Alterations produced.

4.7 Filing of documentation

Electronic storage of information within EDRM has altered the way in which the VOA files documentation. The majority of files are now held electronically with locations storing only a minimum of hardcopy records.

Storage protocols and naming conventions are held within EDRM guidance.

Case papers for cleared work must be stored for six months after the date of schedule, filed by BA and by schedule. They do not need to be stripped as they will be destroyed in their entirety at the end of their short retention period. In that 6 month period a number of reports will be selected for Valuation Integrity auditing. Hardcopy reports that have been requested are to be retrieved from the relevant folder and scanned in (if in hardcopy) or imported (if held electronically) into the EDRM case file. The original should then be filed back in the appropriate folder awaiting disposal at the appropriate time. Every month (in arrears) the relevant folders for that month should be disposed of in restricted waste (e.g. reports cleared in April 2010 are to be disposed of in October 2010).

4.8 Production of full Council Tax lists

Full Council Tax Lists are produced three times a year, at the end of March and towards the end of July and November. These will include all alterations made during the period since the last version of the List was produced.

Lists are generated centrally in accordance with the VOA’s Calendar of Overnight Outputs.

Output to hardcopy is no longer undertaken by the VOA for either its own use or for BA purposes. If a CT Unit has a specific need for a complete hardcopy list and this can be justified, arrangements should be made with ITSD for the List to be directed to a designated printer within the location. This will tie up the designated printer for a while and an operator needs to be on hand to monitor its output and possibly replenish the supply of paper in the printer tray.

BAs can obtain full lists via the internet using the BA File Transfer System and these can be output to hardcopy by them as part of the transfer.

Ad hoc generations can be carried out at the request of the BA, but the VOA reserves the right to make a charge for these. Current fees should be checked through the Customer Service Manager. Whilst slotting them into the Calendar cannot be guaranteed, ITSD will make every effort to accommodate them, in association with HMRC’s IT Partner. LSAs should complete an ad hoc request for Overnight Generation (VO 9815), which can be obtained from the forms folder in MS Word Template (File/On my computer / Forms), and forward it by email to VOA IT Help Desk First Line Support.

4.9 Retaining hardcopy records

Schedules of Alterations and No Actions in hardcopy should be retained for two years before they are destroyed as restricted waste paper. This allows for quality auditing of the banding process to be completed.

Copy LONs and all associated papers (including working dockets) can be destroyed as restricted waste paper in accordance with the EDRM Guidance i.e. once all relevant paperwork has been scanned and the case is closed.

Settled appeals must never be destroyed during the currency of the Council Tax List to which they relate.

Appendix 2.1: Council Tax reports - elapsed time

CR01 – Demolished

CR02 - Change from domestic use - Deletion from CT List

CR03 - New

CR04 - Change to domestic use – Inclusion in the CT List

CR05 - Reconstitutions (splits and mergers)

CR06 - Composite dwelling not covered by any other code

CR07 - Demolition of part – potential band reduction

CR09 - Other reports – immediate review

CR10 - Structural alterations – potential Increase

CR12 - Change of address

CR14 - Minor address change

CR16 - Consequential to band alteration on a neighbouring dwelling

CR17 - Enquiry raised to correct a banding inaccuracy

Estimates

Report Types Excluded From Timeliness target
CR08 – (Code no longer available)
CR11 - Boundary Change (ITSD Use)
CR13 - Boundary Change – New (ITSD use)
CR15 - Enquiry received (No Proposal rights exist)
CR18 - Enquiry received (Proposal rights exist)
CR90 - Resolved at point of contact
CR99 - Outstanding enquiry

Appendix 2.2: Council Tax reports - default triage codes

CR Code

Default Triage Code

CR01 – Demolished

1

CR02 - Change from domestic use - Deletion from CT

List

1

CR03 – New

1

CR04 - Change to Domestic use – Inclusion in the CT

List

2

CR05 - Reconstitutions (splits and mergers)

2

CR06 - Composite dwelling not covered by any other

code

2

CR07 - Demolition of part – potential band reduction

2

CR08 - Not used

n/a

CR09 - Other reports – immediate review

2

CR10 - Structural alterations – potential Increase

2

CR11 - Boundary Change (ITSD Use)

n/a

CR12 - Change of address

1

CR13 - Boundary Change – New (ITSD use)

n/a

CR14 - Minor address change

1

CR15 - Enquiry received (No Proposal rights exist)

2

CR16 - Consequential to band alteration on a

neighbouring dwelling

1

CR18 - Enquiry received (Proposal rights exist)

2

CR90 - Resolved at point of contact

1

CR99 - Outstanding enquiry

1

Appendix 2.3: effective dates for Council Tax purposes - England and Wales

It is the Listing Officer’s responsibility to ensure that the correct effective date is adopted when the CT list is altered. The effective date to be adopted in each instance should be selected from the tables below. Date of Schedule shown as DOS. In the case of reconstitutions where the dates for deletion and insertion do not coincide, the existing entry (entries) should be made inactive and the new entry (entries) inserted as two separate actions. The relevant dates should be inserted on the working dockets by the caseworker.

Circumstance Causing List Alteration Effective Date to be adopted for CT Band
New dwelling A new dwelling; including new dwellings with new annexes, splits and mergers. Date the dwelling/dwelling with annex came into existence
Demolition / no hereditament A dwelling has ceased to exist. Date dwelling ceased to exist
Compiled list error: band down When correcting the original compiled error where band will be reduced. England: 1 April 1993 Wales: Post 1/4/2010: later of list compilation date or 6 years before DOS.
Compiled list error: band up When correcting the original compiled error where band will be increased. DOS
Composite Issue (1): When dwelling has become or ceased to be a composite. Date of change
Composite Issue (2): An increase or decrease in the domestic use of a composite. Date of change
Disaggregation Issue (1): Original compilation error Incorrectly shown as one, where hereditament should have been shown as 2 or more dwellings under Article 3 CT (Chargeable Dwellings) Order. NB Do not confuse with separate dwellings which were separate hereditaments – that would be: 1/4/93 In England or 1/4/05 for the 2005 List in Wales. DOS
  Disaggregation Issue (2): Inaccuracy when making previous alteration Incorrectly shown as one, where one hereditament should have been shown as 2 or more dwellings under Article 3 CT(Chargeable Dwellings) Order. NB Do not confuse with separate dwellings which were separate hereditaments – that would be the date they came into existence. DOS
Disaggregation Issue (3): Any other case e.g. Where a post compilation list annex to an existing dwelling has been created or discovered that is not shown in the list. NB This is not a Compiled List error, nor a correction of a previous alteration. Wales: Date of coming into existence of annex. England: DOS
Correcting Inaccuracy: Previous alteration Correcting inaccuracy which arose when making a previous alteration which will REDUCE band. NB (1) Does not apply when inaccuracy was failure to disaggregate OR (2) correcting inaccuracy which will INCREASE band. England: Day on which previous alteration had effect Wales: As England. The 6 year backdating rule only applies to compiled list alterations.
Material Reduction Cases: Where there has been a material reduction in value and dwellings are rebanded (eg physical change to state of locality or demolition of part of dwelling. The day on which change of circumstances occurred
Material Increase & Relevant Transaction Where there has been a material increase and relevant transaction. Wales: Date of legal completion of transaction (ie date of instrument on PD or SDLT form) England: Post 1/4/07 DOS Pre 1/4/07 date of completion.

Appendix 2.4: sample of a completion notice

Please note the following example may vary across different billing authorities.

Your Ref: If telephoning or calling please ask for :
   
Our Ref: Telephone:
Date: Email:

Local government finance act 1992 section 17

Completion notice

Address of property:

Completion date:

In accordance with the aforementioned Act all unoccupied property, unless exempt, will be liable on an empty property charge.

It is the opinion of this Council that the above property could reasonably be expected to be completed by the Completion Date stated in this notice.

If six months after the Completion Date, the property remains empty and unfurnished, you will become liable to 50% of the Council Tax normally payable on the property band into which it falls.

Consequently, I ask you to confirm that you agree the property will be substantially completed by the Completion Date, by completing the lower half of the tear off coupon overleaf and returning it to the Freepost address given.

If you do not agree with the Completion Date, you should contact me by telephone on * or * (between 3.00pm and 4.30pm) in an attempt to agree a more reasonable alternative date. In addition you should let me know immediately if the property becomes furnished or occupied or if you sell the property.

If you wish to appeal against this Completion Notice you must do so within 28 days from the service of this notice.

When making this appeal you should send a copy of this notice along with a full explanation of the grounds of your appeal.

Finally please note that whilst an appeal is pending, the date shown on the Completion Notice will be the date used in calculating any Council Tax charges. You are liable to pay these charges in accordance with the instructions on the Council Tax account sent to you, until the results of your appeal is knows.

If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to telephone me between 3.00pm and 4.30pm any weekday.

Signed:

Property Inspector


Completion Notice Response

Property Address:

Property Reference:

Completion Date:

I agree that this property will be substantially completed by the completion date stated above.

Signed:

Name:

Position in Company:

Date:

Please return to:

Appendix 2.5: visits to confirm property attribute data

Reports

CR Code Triage Code(s) Possible Inspection Policy *
CR01 – Demolished 1 N Desk top – If the report is in relation to a true demolition. A visit may be deemed necessary if the report is in relation to a property questioned as uninhabitable.
CR02 - Change from domestic Use. Deletion from CT List 1,2 N CT Desk top, however property may require a visit by NDR team
CR03 - New 0,1,2 3,4 Y Desk top i.e. WIA, Estate Files, Plans. Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR04 - Change to Domestic use. Inclusion in the CT List 2 3,4 Y Desk top Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR05 - Reconstitutions (splits and mergers) 2 3,4 Y Desk top. Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR06 - Composite dwelling not Covered by any other code 2 3,4 Y Desk top. Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR07 - Demolition of part. Potential Band reduction 2 3,4 Y Desk top Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR08 - Not used n/a n/a n/a
CR09 - Other reports – immediate review 2 3,4 Y Desk top Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR10 - Structural alterations – potential Increase 2 3,4 Y Desk top visit i.e. simple & complex
CR11 - Boundary Change (ITSD Use) 1 N Desk top
CR12 - Change of address 1 N Desk top
CR13 - Boundary Change – New (ITSD use) 1 N Desk top
CR14 - Minor address change 1 N Desk top
CR15 - Enquiry received (No Proposal Rights exist) 2 3,4 Y Desk top Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR16 - Consequential to band alteration on a neighbouring dwelling 2 N Desk top – however some of these may need a simple drive-by to ascertain that they are the same type of dwelling
CR18 - Enquiry received (proposal rights exist) 2 3,4 Y Desk top Visit i.e. simple & complex
CR90 - Resolved at point of contact 2 N Desk top
CR99 – Outstanding enquiry 2 N Desk top

The vast majority of Council Tax bands can be determined utilising desk top tools. A visit should only be considered in the limited circumstances where this is not possible.

Proposals / Appeals

Code Of Grounds – WEF 01-Apr-2008 ( Appeals Direct )

Code of Grounds

Reason

*Policy **

AD01

Proposal Against List Entry – New Taxpayer.

Desktop – Assuming challenge is against the CT band and property attribute details are available and correct.

AD02

Proposal Against List Entry – Works Carried Out.

Desktop or Visit – Depending on information available and extent of works.

AD03

Proposal Against List Entry – Change to Physical State of Locality.

Visit may be required to determine impact of the physical change.

AD04

Proposal Against a VT/HC Decision (‘as a result of a citing ‘ ).

Desktop or Visit

AD05

Proposal to Insert a New Entry.

Desktop – i.e through, Estate Files, Plans etc.

Visit – If further information is required

AD06

Proposal to Delete an Entry.

Desktop – in relation to true demolitions

Visit - may be deemed necessary if the report is in relation to a property cited as uninhabitable.

AD07

Proposal Challenging LON – Incorrect List Entry.

Desktop – Assuming all dwelling information has been obtained for the relevant CT report.

AD08

Proposal Challenging LON – Incorrect Effective Date.

Desktop

Appendix 2.6: schedule of alterations

Valuation List for the Billing Authority of:

Version Date:

Schedule No:

Schedule of Alterations – Post 1 April 1993

Page No:

Reference No Address (including Postcode) Valuation Band Effective Date Previous Band Notes

Appendix 2.7: no action schedule

To * Billing Authority

From * Listing Officer

Date:

Reported Period * to *

It has been decided to take no action on the reports listed below for the reasons stated.

Report No Address No Action Code and Reason

Appendix 2.8: statement of numbers and bands

Statement of Numbers and Bands

of all Properties shown

in the Valuation List for the

Billing Authority Area

Of………………………………… DOE Code…………….

As at……………..

Band Numbers
   
A  
B  
C  
D  
E  
F  
G  
H  

Grand Total of all Properties in Valuation List …………………………..

Appendix 2.9: aide-memoire for Team Leaders / Listing Officers considering multiple band reviews

Valuation

This must be summarised in an easy to follow format.

Review AVD evidence

Sales

Condition of properties? Basic, needing work, improved or modernised. (Remember “reasonable repair”).

Office Records

Key Property Sheets, Street Sheets/Milo

Historic sales particulars? Domestic Surveys

Local Knowledge, CT Settlement Sheets etc.

Tone of the list?

Are we at the stage where, to import from Rating Law, a tone of the list has been established? Review settlements and VT/VTE decisions in the area.

Analysis of Evidence

Need a detailed analysis of evidence - Is this strong enough to persuade a Valuation Tribunal? [Basic spreadsheet can help]

This needs to be looked at by the Team Leader and Listing Officer personally. (Consider the principles in Lotus and Delta).

There are differences in England and Wales

Listing Officers rights to change the list

LO cannot change list following VT/VTE or HC decision, (unless there has been a subsequent material change). LO can increase if a previous agreement was made in error or after a previous LO notice. So, need to investigate each dwelling where it is proposed to amend the band, be it up or down, and establish banding history.

Material Increase / Relevant Transaction

Any Material Increase and Relevant Transaction can lead to a band increase. There doesn’t have to be a CR10: that is simply an administrative procedure. [Remember the ED will be DOS in England from 010407].

Right of appeal

SI 1993/290 Reg 5(6). 6 month to appeal the change.

Policy

Generally the LO should not be doing “bulk” reviews

Policy is to amend bandings only when the evidence is compelling.

Final decision rest with Listing Officer

CEO can help in the decision making process and advice on policy. Valuation issues must be decided locally and the LO must be prepared to support staff and attend VT/VTE where necessary.

In essence, if the LO isn’t prepared to personally stand up in VTVTE, you shouldn’t be reviewing the bandings

Evidence needs to be strong for the increased banding

This ties in with analysis of evidence and the need to persuade a VT/VTE of the appropriate banding

All notices should be sent on same day

SI 1993/290 Reg 14(6 & 7). Increase from DOS

Customer Service

BA’s must be kept in the loop

BAs will be need to know of reductions because of refunds and increases because of complaints.

CSM needs to be involved

Customer service and dealing with questions or complaints must be coordinated and controlled. CSM should not make valuation judgements but consider procedures & processes.

Press / Media / Public

Procedure in place to deal with Media enquiries? (Contact Media Relations Manager?)

Affected CT payers

Warned in advance? Given a contact name: needs to be a person capable of answering detailed questions on both valuation and process. Suggest the TL.