In this section
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Link to IA 270109 here), 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 can be found here.
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.
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)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :-
- to enable sustainable bands to be allocated; and
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A wide range of reference and training material is held on the Council Tax and Housing Allowances homepage and the Learning intranet pages.
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.
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.
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. A full list of activity codes can be obtained from accessing the CT Mini Work Aid.
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.