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In this section

Part 3: The Duties of a Listing Officer, Liaison with Stakeholders and Disclosure of Information

3.1 Appointment of a Listing Officer

3.2 Authority of a Listing Officer

3.3 Delegated Authority

3.4 Listing Officer and Valuation Officer

3.5 Representation at Valuation Tribunal Hearings

3.6 Appeals to the High Court

3.7 Southern Specialist Rating Unit – with responsibility for London Licensed Property

3.8 Signature of Documents

3.9 Impartiality of Listing Officer

3.10 Relations with the Public

3.11 Advice to Council Taxpayers

3.12 Aggrieved Taxpayers

3.13 Enquiries from Taxpayers in Band A Dwellings

3.14 Response Times for Correspondence

3.15 Filing of Correspondence Relating to Enquiries

3.16 Disposal of Correspondence

3.17 Liaison with Billing Authorities

3.18 Liaison with Neighbouring Listing Officers

3.20 Liaison with Valuation Tribunal Admin Units

3.21 Duties Relating to Council Tax Valuation Lists

3.22 Ascertaining the Name of the Occupier

3.23 Disclosure of Property Attribute Data and Sales Information

3.23.1 Context

3.23.2 Overview of Legislation

3.23.2 The Commissioners for Revenues & Customs Act 2005 (CRCA) s.18(1) to 23

3.23.4 Personal Data & the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)

3.23.5 The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) – The Principles

3.23.7 Disclosure of Information for Council Tax Work

3.23.8 Using Information for Casework

3.23.9 Sales Information

3.23.10 Dealing with Informal Enquiries

3.23.11 Dealing with Proposals

3.23.12 The Appeal Stage - PD and SDLT Data

3.23.13 Other Sources of Information

3.24 Discovery of Mistakes

Part 3: The Duties of a Listing Officer, Liaison with Stakeholders and Disclosure of Information

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates.

3.1 Appointment of a Listing Officer

The Commissioners of HM Revenue & Customs are responsible for the appointment of a Listing Officer (LO) for CT purposes for each Billing Authority (BA) in England and Wales. This is a statutory appointment under S.20 of LGFA 92. In practice a LO has responsibility for a valuation area which will include a number of BA areas.

3.2 Authority of a Listing Officer

The Listing Officer/CT Unit Head of each Valuation Office holds a document VO9059 signed by the Chief Executive Officer on behalf of the Commissioners of Revenue and Customs, authorising them to act as :-

the Listing Officer for the purposes of LGFA 92 ;

the Valuation Officer for the purposes of carrying out any of the functions imposed or conferred on the Commissioners of HM Revenue & Customs by S.26 and S.27 LGFA 92 ;

the Valuation Officer in relation to rating matters (see Rating Manual).

The absence or imperfection of such an authority may invalidate actions taken and any LO who, at any time, is without any authority covering the BAs concerned, should contact CEO (Human Resources - Operations) immediately.

If there is a gap between the end of one LO's appointment and the start of the next (for example, due to death), it will be necessary to stockpile CT work until the new appointment is made. There must always be a duly authorised LO in post.

There is no provision for the appointment of Deputy Listing Officers.

3.3 Delegated Authority

LGFA 92 provides authority for VOA employees to carry out inspections. Part of Section 26, which is reproduced below, states:-

  • If a Valuation Officer needs to value a dwelling for the purpose of carrying out any of his functions, he and any servant of the Crown authorised by him in writing may enter on, survey and value the dwelling if subsections (2) and (3) below are fulfilled.
  • At least three clear days' notice in writing of the proposed exercise of the power must be given; and there shall be disregarded for this purpose any day which is:-
  • a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday; or
  • a day which is a Bank Holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in England and Wales.
  • In a case where a person authorised by a Valuation Officer proposes to exercise the power, that person must if required produce his authority.
  • If a person intentionally delays or obstructs a person in the exercise of a power under this section, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
  • In this section…"Valuation Officer" means any Listing Officer and any other officer of the Commissioners of HM Revenue & Customs who is currently appointed by them to carry out any of their functions."

Therefore, to comply with the requirements of s.26(1) LGFA 92, all staff who are engaged in inspections and valuation duties for CT purposes must hold a written authorisation signed by the Valuation Officer. The authorisation is required to be in the form of VO 9059 (reproduced as Appendix 1.2) and produced on VOA headed paper. VO9059 refers to the authority to inspect and the authority to represent the VOA at tribunal and must be amended appropriately for individual use. A copy must be placed on the Listing Officer's personal file, and the officer is expected to keep the original in a safe place.

It is not intended that this authorisation should be shown whenever a dwelling is inspected. The identity document VO 9053 is designed for that purpose, and should be produced when inspecting a dwelling for CT purposes.

3.4 Listing Officer and Valuation Officer

The CT legislation uses both the terms 'Listing Officer' and 'Valuation Officer'.

This is because the Local Government Finance and Valuation Act 1991, which authorised work to start on the initial banding exercise, used the term 'Valuation Officer'. This was carried forward to LGFA 92.

For most purposes regarding valuation and valuation lists the statutory officer is the 'Listing Officer'. For certain purposes the LO's powers are in effect enhanced by being defined as the 'Valuation Officer'. For these purposes the LO must be described as 'Valuation Officer'. These concern Powers of Entry (s.26 LGFA 92) (see 3.3 above) and the power to serve Forms of Return (s.27(2) LGFA 92).

3.5 Representation at Valuation Tribunal Hearings

S.16 of LGFA 92 provides that:-

"Any party to an appeal may appear in person (with assistance from any person if he or she so wishes), by counsel or solicitor, or any other representative (other than a person who is an employee or member of the valuation tribunal)."

The LO may therefore delegate to any officer in their CT Unit, caseworker or above, the duty of conducting cases before the Valuation Tribunal where the appeal concerns a dwelling which has been banded either by the LO or a member of staff, or by a person appointed to assist in carrying out valuations (s.21(3) LGFA 92) in practice this means a contractor who carried out a part of the initial banding exercise). An officer who is to represent the LO at a Valuation Tribunal/Valuation Tribunal England (VT/VTE) hearing requires an authorisation to do so (this does not apply to officers who may be called solely as witnesses to matters of fact). The form of that authorisation is VO 9059, previously mentioned in paragraph 3.3 above and held in Appendix 1.2.

At Valuation Tribunal hearings an officer conducting a case for the LO should not describe herself or himself as "the Listing Officer" but rather as the LO's "representative". References to the LO should be considered to be to the one appointed officer.

3.6 Appeals to the High Court

An appeal against a VT/VTE decision for CT purposes is made to the High Court (HC). This may only be made on questions of law and not on matters of fact, such as the level of valuation/banding. See Section 3 part 5.

The Board's Solicitor (HM Revenue and Customs) will be instructed and will handle the administration of all appeals to the High Court.

When an application is made by a taxpayer to the Valuation Tribunal for a case to be stated for the decision of the High Court, the Clerk will notify the LO.

3.7 Southern Specialist Rating Unit – with responsibility for London Licensed Property

The Southern Specialist Rating Unit deals with CT bandings for any living accommodation within licensed property for London BAs 5030 to 5990. All staff involved should, for each BA area in which those duties are carried out, hold an authority VO 9056 signed by the relevant LO.

3.8 Signature of Documents

All documents issued by the LO in exercise of his/her statutory function must be issued either in the LO's name or signed on his/her behalf by a member of staff to whom authority has been delegated. CT Unit instructions should clearly state which documents are to be signed by the LO, and to whom and in respect of which documents authority is delegated to sign on the LO's behalf. All CT documents and letters must be signed by, or on behalf of, the Listing Officer, and not in the name of the District Valuer or the Valuation Officer.

3.9 Impartiality of Listing Officer

The LO must preserve an attitude of complete impartiality in all contact with members of the public and BAs. Bandings must be completely free from interest or prejudice. The amount of Council Tax which taxpayers have to pay to BAs depends on these bandings and it is, therefore, imperative that in no circumstances should it be possible for an accusation of bias to be made against the LO.

3.10 Relations with the Public

The LO should be accessible to any Council Taxpayer who requests a personal interview. Correspondence and interviews will normally be conducted by the member of staff who is dealing with the banding of the dwelling in question, but it sometimes happens that a person with a grievance feels a greater sense of satisfaction if the matter can be discussed personally with the LO. An unnecessary appeal may be avoided if such a meeting is arranged. Requests for an interview should always be met unless the request is known to be frivolous.

The LO should ensure that staff are as helpful and informative as possible in their discussions with Council Taxpayers. In particular, taxpayers should be made fully aware of their banding and appeal rights and be given a full response to their queries subject only to the standard rules of confidentiality. If there is doubt in any particular case, the Customer Services Manager (CSM) should be consulted. It is important that taxpayers are satisfied they have been given all the information they are entitled to receive.

When informal discussions are initiated by a taxpayer, or an authorised representative, and the LO decides not to alter the CT List, the LO must ensure that the other party clearly understands they can submit a challenge to alter the list and may have a right to make a proposal.

The inspection of a person's home is a sensitive matter and it is essential that all staff who inspect dwellings carry this out in a tactful, courteous and businesslike manner. Staff should show their identity documents as a matter of course on arrival and not wait to be asked.

Staff must record details of all conversations, both on the telephone and face-to-face on VO9498 (Appendix 1.3). Such notes must be initialled and dated and, where relevant, the time of the conversation should be recorded. For new and existing cases this information is logged within EDRM. For CR90 enquiries a record is made within the Central Database. Complaints and enquiries from Members of Parliament should be entered on the Customer Contact Record (CCR) application.

3.11 Advice to Council Taxpayers

Where a reduction in the banding is conceded by the LO or a Valuation Tribunal as a result of a temporary change of circumstances, it is essential that the taxpayer clearly understands that the LO reserves the right to restore the banding whenever there is a further change of circumstances, e.g. on completion of the work and following a relevant transaction (i.e. a sale). Where the LO alters the List by reducing the band in such cases, or settles a proposal, the LO should write to the taxpayer explaining the position and send a copy of the letter to the BA for information. If the LO subsequently decides to restore the banding, the LO Notification should be accompanied by a further explanatory letter. A copy of the letter should be sent to the BA at the same time as the Schedule of Alterations.

In appropriate cases the LO may, at his/her discretion, inform appellant taxpayers, or their agents, that appeals concerning comparable dwellings have been unsuccessful. Care should be exercised when supplying this information not to make any suggestion that the taxpayer should withdraw their appeal. Care should also be taken to avoid making any statement from which the inference could be drawn that if the taxpayer proceeds to a hearing by the Valuation Tribunal and is successful, an appeal to the High Court by the LO will follow automatically.

The LO should be careful not to give any formal advice to taxpayers personally, either of a general nature or of a more specific nature, relevant to the subject enquiry or any particular appeal, because if a negligent mis-statement were to be made during the course of such advice, or if a taxpayer was to be given a legitimate expectation of a particular course of action or practice (not later realised), the LO could face legal proceedings, including judicial review proceedings, being instituted against him/her.

The LO should make certain that all staff take the greatest care when answering taxpayers' enquiries. The desire to assist should not lead to superficial advice being given where insufficient evidence or knowledge is available to reach a proper conclusion. Where a member of staff is unable to give accurate advice, it should be courteously explained to the taxpayer that further consideration needs to be given to the enquiry. The matter should then be referred to a senior member of staff.

3.12 Aggrieved Taxpayers

Enquiries can be received from taxpayers raising questions on the banding of their dwellings or other entries in the CT List. Answering these queries successfully often resolves the matter without the need for the taxpayer to make an appeal and can establish goodwill between a taxpayer and the LO. All queries must be dealt with courteously, and not imply that it is not worthwhile for a taxpayer to make an appeal.

It is possible for a letter to constitute an proposal if it fulfils the statutory requirements. If it is intended to be an appeal but does not meet the statutory requirements, it should be treated as an invalid proposal.

All queries by letter, telephone or in person should be answered fully as soon as possible. Taxpayers who intend to make a complaint should be directed to submit full details in writing to the Unit Customer Services Manager.

3.13 Enquiries from Taxpayers in Band A Dwellings

Taxpayers of dwellings in Band A have the same rights as all other taxpayers. However, any dwelling already in Band A cannot have a lower band. This should be pointed out in the reply to any taxpayer of a dwelling which is already in Band A, who enquires about a lower band in their query, and they should be advised that there is no lower band. This does not apply to a taxpayer of a Band A dwelling who is seeking a deletion from the CT List, a higher band or a reconstitution.

3.14 Response Times for Correspondence

Replies to enquiries must be made within the spirit of the HMRC Charter supported by the VOA Service Standards (refer to the Customer Services Homepage).

Current standards are that correspondence should be acknowledged within an average of three days and a full reply provided within an average of six days.

3.15 Filing of Correspondence Relating to Enquiries

Appropriate correspondence should be saved and stored in EDRM in accordance with the policy advice set out in the EDRM homepage. This is set out in the guide available on the EDRM intranet homepage.

3.16 Disposal of Correspondence

Correspondence not required to be saved and stored in EDRM should be disposed of in accordance with the policy advice set out in IA 080704 Disposal of Hard Copy and Other Records.

3.17 Liaison with Billing Authorities

The LO should make every effort to establish and maintain close contact with BAs. The relationship between LOs and BAs demands goodwill and co-operation on both sides. Any reasonable requests made by BAs should be acceded to.

The LO should arrange for a Service Partnership (SP) Document (covering both Rating and Council Tax) to be set up with each of their BAs and for these to be reviewed in accordance with the terms of the SP, normally by the GCSM. Fresh SPs will need to be drawn up annually.

3.18 Liaison with Neighbouring Listing Officers

The LO should keep in touch with LOs of adjoining CT Units to ensure uniformity in relation to banding. This applies particularly to dwellings situated close to boundaries.

If a dwelling is divided by the boundary between CT Units, only one LO will be responsible for its banding and for any appeal proceedings, but should consult the other LO(s) concerned whenever it is necessary to do so. The LO responsible for the Valuation List which includes the dwelling will be responsible for this contact.

3.20 Liaison with Valuation Tribunal Admin Units

The LO should consult with VT/VTE Admin Units so that good administrative working arrangements are maintained.

VT/VTE may occasionally call conferences to discuss matters of mutual concern. Any questions about the appropriateness of LO attendance will need to be discussed with the Director Council Tax & Housing Allowances, notifying also the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Valuer.

3.21 Duties Relating to Council Tax Valuation Lists

The LO has a statutory duty to compile and maintain a CT List for each BA area under his/her control. As part of this duty, the LO and his/her staff should note any physical changes to dwellings, or features, which are observed in the course of inspections for any purpose which lead them to suppose that any alteration to the CT List may be required. Appropriate action should then be taken.

Whilst there is no specific obligation on LOs to police BA areas under their control to record all changes which could lead to alterations of the List, vigilance on the part of all outdoor staff will ensure that VOA survey records are adequately maintained.

3.22 Ascertaining the Name of the Occupier

The LO has a duty to ascertain the name of the current Council Taxpayer. Reg 35(1) (3) of the Council Tax Regulations 1993 states that:-

"If the name of any taxpayer on whom notice is required to be served cannot after reasonable inquiry be ascertained, the notice may be served by addressing to "The Council Tax Payer" of the dwelling concerned."

BAs should be encouraged to supply names of Council Taxpayers on their reports. The supply of this information for postal purposes is permissible under the Data Protection Act 1988 and can be distinguished from the inclusion of names of current taxpayers on Schedules of Alterations as a means of identifying dwellings, which is NOT permissible.

Where a BA does not supply this information, the LO should make every effort to find out the name from existing office records for the correct addressing of Listing Officer Notifications and other correspondence. Referencers should ask for the occupier's name when inspecting dwellings, but specific visits should NOT be made for this purpose only.

3.23 Disclosure of Property Attribute Data and Sales Information

3.23.1 Context

This policy reflects legislation that restricts the disclosure of data and replaces previous advice. It sets out what can and cannot be disclosed when VOA staff are handling a council tax enquiry or case where, in order to resolve the matter, there is a clear need to disclose information (e.g. about transactions and/or the property attributes). This policy does not cover general enquiries about sales information or property data, or requests for bulk information. These may need to be treated as Freedom of Information Act requests and different rules will apply – to see information about Freedom of Information requests please click here . Your CSM or CEO Customer Services will be able to give advice. Requests for bulk data, often from other public authorities, should be brought to the attention of the Data Strategy Team and the CT & HA Directorate via e-mail.

3.23.2 Overview of Legislation

The circumstances in which we can, or cannot, disclose information stems from the Commissioners for Revenue & Customs Act 2005 and the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The main provisions are summarised below.

3.23.2 The Commissioners for Revenues & Customs Act 2005 (CRCA) s.18(1) to 23

We all have a duty of confidentiality to a ‘person’ which can include a council taxpayer which is set out in s18 (1) to s23 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005. Section 19 makes it a criminal offence for an individual employee to disclose information capable of identifying a person. The full Revenue and Customs Act can be seen by clicking here.

The CRCA was drafted with the full knowledge of the application of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI). Section 23 of the CRCA specifically states that any information which would specify a person or enable a person to be identified (which will, by implication, relate to any information about the sales of a property or its property attributes) is also regarded as exempt information under s44 (1) (a) of FOI.

Therefore, whilst section 18 (1) of the CRCA prevents VOA staff (as HMRC’s executive agency) from disclosing information which is held in connection with any of our statutory function. Section 18 (2) and (3) go on to set out when we may be permitted to disclose. This includes when we need to disclose information during the progression of an enquiry or case.

Section 18(2) of the CRCA allows us to disclose information provided that it is reasonable and proportionate to a specific case in order to carry out our statutory functions; one of these functions is the maintenance of Council Tax Valuation Lists. The legislation, therefore, allows VOA staff to disclose certain information when dealing with registered enquiries, proposals and appeals where that information would otherwise be prohibited from disclosure.

Information cannot be disclosed if the enquirer is, for example, merely asking about neighbouring properties - the disclosure has to be linked to performing a statutory function and dealing with such enquiries is not regarded as carrying out a statutory function.

Section 18(h) of the CRCA also allows you to provide information relating to the person or their property if they request it. It is VOA policy that such a request is made in writing. This works in conjunction with the disclosure of personal data, when the requirements of the DPA must also be considered and adhered to. Information held about a living individual is deemed to be personal data and should only be released to that individual, or to a third party, such as an agent, if the individual has given their written consent.

Finally section 18(2)[c] of the CRCA deals with civil proceedings like Valuation Tribunals, and 18 (3) confirms that s18 (1) is also subject to any other enactment permitting disclosure.

The CRCA 2005 states we must not even admit we hold specific information if the information sought or requested identifies or enables a person to be deduced like (PD/SDLT) sales data or property attributes even though it, or similar information, may be in the public domain.

Under the CRCA a person includes ‘legal’ persons such as companies and local authorities. Information provided under the FOI Act is anything that could be provided to anyone, anywhere. Disclosure to individuals within the CT business stream to enable staff to carry out statutory functions is under a different disclosure regime and, does not make the information accessible/releasable to anyone under FOI.

3.23.4 Personal Data & the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)

The personal data that is collected and held by the VOA can be sub-divided into three types:

Property Personal Data - this represents the vast majority of the data we collect and includes such information as number of bedrooms, the area and type of a property.

People Personal Data – this includes data that relates directly to an individual such as name, address and contact details.

Sensitive Personal Data – this is information that we rarely need to know about to do the job but may be inadvertently provided to us. It also includes some personnel data held about us as employees of the VOA. The DPA classifies this information as sensitive personal data, and any sensitive personal data inadvertently provided to VOA must not be retained.

3.23.5 The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) – The Principles

The Data Protection Act is underpinned by 8 common-sense principles. If data is handled in line with these principles then compliance should be achieved. The 8 principles about information can be summarised as:

● Fairly and lawfully processed;
● Obtained for specific lawful purposes;
● Adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose for which it is held;
● Accurate and up to date;
● Kept for no longer than business needs or specific purpose require;
● Processed in accordance with the individual's rights;
● Secured against unauthorised or unlawful access or processing; and
Transferred only to countries with adequate levels of protection.

The DPA requires data relating to identifiable living individuals to be processed fairly. ‘Processed’ includes the circumstances in which such information is disclosed. In the context of Council Tax it would be contrary to the DPA to disclose sales price data about specific, identifiable properties other than via a Reg 17 Notice - England (formerly a Reg 26 notice) or Reg 26 Notice - Wales. This is because those sales prices are the personal data of the owners and disclosure would be unfair to them.

For property attribute data, it is reasonable to disclose general property information (from say property attributes) if this is clearly visible to anyone walking down the street providing it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.

For example, “I note from our records that all the properties in your street are semi-detached and were built at the same time”. [The reason why some properties are in band C and some in band D, with a different effective date, is because there have been alterations to these properties after 1993. The Listing Officer has to be made aware of a ‘relevant’ sale and these acts as a legal trigger which enables us to take the alterations into account.]

However, never be drawn into giving lots of specific information as you are subject to the restrictions on disclosure under CRCA which sets out that any information provided should be necessary to undertake our statutory functions.

In summary, we may disclose general sales information or property information as long as we don’t identify the specific properties, or individuals, to which that information relates. The DPA does, of course, allow individual council taxpayers to access information we hold about them and their property. This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR). Before divulging such information, evidence that they are indeed the owner or occupier will be needed. We may be able to confirm this from our records; if not, a copy of the council tax bill should suffice. If you receive a SAR consult with your Customer Service Manager.

You can view The Data Protection Act by clicking here.

3.23.7 Disclosure of Information for Council Tax Work

The following provides guidance on how to strike a balance between disclosing information necessary to carry out a statutory function (as allowed by s.18(2) and (3) of the CRCA), and the need to be careful not to divulge prohibited personal information. The guidance applies to most day-to-day circumstances encountered by members of staff who handle council tax work and must be adopted by everyone for consistency.

Although the CRCA allows us to disclose some information in certain circumstances as part of our job (function), it should not be taken to mean that we have complete freedom to reveal what we like, when we like. We must only disclose information that is relevant and absolutely necessary to resolve the enquiry, proposal or appeal in accordance with the CRCA. There are clear rules on sales information, but for property attribute information it is less clear. As a matter of policy we will, therefore, adopt a cautious approach, which is important, as it will help to maintain the confidence of taxpayers that the information we hold about them, or their properties, is handled securely.

3.23.8 Using Information for Casework

All information obtained and held by the VOA, with the exception of Local Housing Allowance data, can be used internally for any other VOA purpose that assists the VOA in carrying out its functions.

Information that is provided to us in written format (letter or e-mail) should not be edited even if sensitive, as the writer has chosen to provide this information. However, if we are provided with sensitive personal data verbally, we should not record this unless it helps us to deal with the taxpayer more effectively. For example, a taxpayer may inform us they have hearing difficulties and ask that we take this into account when we contact them. It is essential that such information is deleted once it has served its purpose.

If we are provided with more information than we need to progress a case, the superfluous information should be returned to the source. For example, if we are provided with numerous photographs or copies of correspondence that do not assist us in processing the case then they should be returned. Consult with your line manager or team leader if you are unsure how to proceed without creating another record of them. You should also ensure there is a record of what action has taken place with the relevant papers.

Information gathered for a business purpose should not be retained once all business use for the information is exhausted. The Records Management policy provides advice in respect of information retention protocols. Hardcopy information that is no longer required, should be disposed of in a manner that is appropriate to its protective marking. Information marked PROTECT or RESTRICTED should be placed in the lockable bins. Information marked CONFIDENTIAL should be shredded on site with an approved cross-cut shredder and disposed of with other restricted waste.

3.23.9 Sales Information

Post 2000 sales information is now in the public domain following a change in the legislation, which allowed HM Land Registry to sell their information to third parties. Purchasers of this information have included it in their websites as part of the service they provide.

Any sales data, usually post 1 April 2000 that is sourced from the internet or in the public domain, or details of any sales information provided by an enquirer, can be discussed at any stage of case progression. In verifying any such information against that held on the VOA database, however, care should be taken not to reveal personal information that may not be in the public domain, such as the name of the vendor or the fact that our records are different.

3.23.10 Dealing with Informal Enquiries

Generally, enquiries disputing the accuracy of the band should be handled by reference to comparable bandings using, for example, the 'Inspection Support Data' information from the CDB and/or the Comparable Selection Tool. Where an enquirer insists on sales information, or it is necessary to refer to sales to resolve the enquiry, broad detail can be given verbally or in writing of the comparable sales evidence that we hold or have used in connection with the case, providing this does not identify, or enable someone to deduce the identity of specific properties and individuals.

It has been confirmed that you can identify the taxpayer and what they paid for a property by the release of the sale price, the date of the sale and the address, so information at this level of detail should not normally be disclosed.

Information that can be disclosed for any enquiry might therefore include:

i) Any information concerning addresses and bandings available in the CT list application available on the internet which can reflect whether they are agreed or been subject to a Valuation Tribunal to establish ‘Tone’.

ii) Information about the enquirer’s property to show the relevance of the comparables used, provided the enquirer is the taxpayer.

iii) An approximate sale price, which can be expressed as a range of values.

iv) An approximate sale date which can be the quarter and year of sale.

v) A general location. In urban areas it may be possible to go down to street level if necessary, providing this would not reveal the precise property.

vi) Summary property attribute data for comparable bandings or anonymised sales, which can include group, age, type, (e.g. 1930s semi detached property) approximate floor area (can be a range if more than one property e.g. 65m2 to 75m2) and number of rooms e.g. “a 1960s detached house of approximately 100m2 with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a detached garage sold on Acacia Avenue for between £40,000 and £45,000 in May 1991".

In dealing with enquiries it is important to consider the totality of information provided. In disclosing several general pieces of information, we should be cautious that we do not enable the enquirer in identifying any specific properties and thus an individual.

As a matter of policy a reasonable number of properties discussed or cited would normally be restricted to 5.

3.23.11 Dealing with Proposals

The opportunity to release detail on PD/SDLT information is not available at proposal stage. The same rules for dealing with informal enquiries will, therefore, apply to any disclosure prior to the Valuation Tribunal (England or Wales) appeal stage. This includes the level of detail that is provided on the VO7410 Supplementary Information Document sent with a Decision Notice.

3.23.12 The Appeal Stage - PD and SDLT Data

Reg 26 of the Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations 1993, replaced in England by Reg 17 of the Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009 and Section 48 of the Finance (No 2) Act 2005 allows Particulars Delivered (PD) and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) sales information, provided by HMRC Stamp Taxes, to be used ‘in relevant proceedings’ i.e. when a proposal has become an appeal. Formal Reg 17/Reg 26 notices releasing sales information can be served once an appeal has been made as ‘proceedings’ have commenced. The precise location as well as the full property attribute details can be revealed. At this stage the VOA considers it appropriate that full attribute details can be disclosed, as our responsibility is to ensure the VT/VTE has the information it needs to make a decision. Sales information, and the associated property attribute data can also be disclosed for 4 (or more) other transactions if requested on a taxpayer's counter notice. For further detail of Reg 17/Reg 26 procedure see the Council Tax Manual Section 3 part 4.

3.23.13 Other Sources of Information

If enquiries fall outside Reg 17/Reg 26, the enquirer can be informed that information might be available on property related. Details of sales since 1st April 2000 are also available on payment of a fee from the Land Registry at www.landregistry.gov.uk/

3.24 Listing Officers, Annexes and Disclosure to Billing Authorities

From 1 April 2014, the Council Tax (Reduction for Annexes) (England) Regulations 2013 SI2013/2977 require Billing Authorities (BAs) to reduce liability in annexes by either 50% nor 100%, depending on the nature of the occupier.

What is the role of the BA?

Responsibility for administering these regulations rests entirely with the BA. When it receives an application for a discount, the BA will need to satisfy itself on three counts:

  1. that the dwelling was created through 'disaggregation';
  2. that the applicant is eligible under the criteria of the regulations; and
  3. that both these criteria apply for the entire period of the discount.

Listing Officer (LO) records may in some cases include notes on these aspects. However, the Commissionaires for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 does not permit the sharing of information that the VOA holds unless it is for a VOA function. The administration of the regulations does not fall within a VOA function, which means there is no 'gateway' for making the information available. The Listing Officer (LO) cannot therefore disclose any information about the legal route leading to the entry of an annexe in the Valuation List if a BA seeks it under this legislation.

Which dwellings are included in the regulations?

Regulation 3(2) of the regulations states that: "The dwelling (a) forms part of a single property which includes at least one other dwelling".

These regulations are intended to cover occupation of annexes. However, 'annexe' is not a term used in the Council Tax legislation.  'Article 3 dwellings' created through 'disaggregation' are the most likely type of dwelling to be covered.  We therefore expect these regulations to apply only to dwellings created through 'disaggregation'.

Which occupiers are covered?

Regulation 3(b) of these regulations describes in detail the relationship between the occupants of each 'disaggregated' dwelling who will be covered.

What is the role of the Listing Officer?

The LO's responsibility under Council Tax legislation is to ensure the accuracy of entries in the List. However, the Valuation List does not record the legal route for recording an entry.  Annexes, for example, can switch between different legal routes; whether an annexe is a 'Section 3 dwelling' or an 'Article 3 dwelling'  will depend on who occupies it.  Any change to the legal route will not, however, require alterations to the Valuation List entry.

The effective date of a Valuation List entry for a disaggregation is the date of the List alteration and the effective date of a new dwelling is the date of the event.

As indicated above, the LO cannot disclose the legal route by which an entry in the Valuation list was made in any specific case. While they can examine the Valuation List to determine  whether the effective date matches the date of schedule indicative of a 'disaggregation', this cannot be relied upon because subsequent changes in the occupation of the property that would not need to be reflected in the List entry might have occurred.

What should LAs do if they are asked for advice?

If an LO receives a request for information or advice on how individual list entries were created, they cannot disclose this information even if they hold it.

However, they can refer the BA to this section of the Council Tax Manual, explain what we may hold in general terms, or have a general discussion on the principles governing how entries to the List are created by either route.

If the BA remains unhappy, the LO should escalate this matter to the caseworkers' team leader.

3.25 Discovery of Mistakes

If a mistake is identified by a taxpayer or the general public a clear record should be made of what the issues are and consult with your line manager, team leader or customer service manager, as appropriate, to ensure that, beyond any doubt, a genuine error has been made.

 

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