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Part 3 - Valid Proposals – England

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


Legislation covering proposals and appeals for Council Tax in England can be found in (the following are hyperlinks)

3.1 Registration of Valid Proposals

Once a proposal has been checked for completeness and validity, and coded in accordance with the CT Mini Workaid. It should be input onto the central database (CDB). The aim is to carry out the input within three working days of its receipt anywhere in the Agency, regardless of whether the proposal is received in hardcopy or by electronic means. The date of receipt is taken as the next working day if a proposal is received during a weekend or on an official Bank Holiday.

The proposal must be linked to the correct address. This must be an existing address, unless the proposer is seeking to insert a dwelling in the List (AD05) when the address will have to be created (unless it has already been created on the database for other purposes, such as Property Transactions) and Band "X" automatically created as the current band. Linking must be carried out with extreme care, as once a proposal has been linked to an address, it cannot be unlinked if the address or the code is subsequently found to be wrong. The only way to amend this is to clear the proposal and re-register it linked to the correct address.

Where a clerical error has occurred, the proposal should be cleared using decision type B (make no change to band) and reason code 13 (non standard decision). Full notes of any such action must be input to the Remarks field on the CDB and an explanation in hardcopy added to the case papers.

There is no default in the computer application for the date received, and this must always be typed in. It is not possible to input this as a date in the future; the date of receipt can only equal, or be before, the current (system) date.

An "agent" should be regarded as anyone who has made a proposal on behalf of a taxpayer, an interested person (IP) or a BA. This includes not only firms of Surveyors/ Estate Agents, but also individuals such as a relative or a neighbour.

Where a proposal has been made by an “agent”, the "agent" details must be input through the 'Maintain Case Agents' functionality before registering the proposal. It is important for monitoring purposes that agents’ details are recorded under a standard naming convention.
For any party to be accepted as an agent, an authority to act form (A2A) must be included with the proposal. For further details concerning agents and A2A forms, refer to the current information contained in the link accessed from the CT & HA homepage.

3.2 Dealing with Hardcopy Output

On the day following registration, working dockets should be requested from the CDB. Owing to the limitations of the application, it is not possible for these to be output on the same day as registration. An acknowledgement of the receipt of a valid proposal (VO7706) will be automatically generated when a proposal case is registered.

The document which will be output to hardcopy is the working docket (VO 7456). This document should be checked against the proposal. Any errors arising from input should be highlighted with the correction required shown in red on the working docket. These errors should then be corrected on the computer.

Where incorrect details are shown on the acknowledgement letter, the generated letter should be destroyed and, following input of the correct information, a replacement should be requested from the CDB. When the acknowledgement letter is sent, it must be accompanied by the Appeals Direct leaflet ‘’What to do if you disagree with your banding‘’.

Letters must be posted on the day on which they have been produced. This date appears on the working docket as the date acknowledged.

3.3 Procedure Subsequent to the Making of Proposals

Regulation 8 of the Appeal Regs requires the LO to serve a copy of the proposal, within six weeks from receipt, on

any person, not being the proposer, who appears to be the taxpayer, and

the BA where it has served notice that it wishes to receive copies.

The former could occur, for example, when a landlord of rented property makes a proposal. The proposal copy must be accompanied by a letter VO 7713 from MS Word Template and a copy of the leaflet "What to do if you disagree with your Council Tax Banding" (VO 7587 in the CT Appeals Direct resource kit, which can be accessed from the CT & HA homepage). A copy of the letter should be kept with the case papers.

Where a BA has opted in, agreement as to the most efficient way of serving copies should be agreed with the BA concerned.

Casing-up Procedures

The case papers must be placed in a plastic wallet and include:
● Proposal
● Working docket (VO 7456 and schedule VO7457)
● Copy letters
● Previous correspondence
● Relevant questionnaires (VO7497 or 7498)

The case should then be passed to the designated caseworker.

3.5 Dealing with Proposals – time limits

Reg 9 states that the LO must provide a decision notice (DN) for Council Tax proposals within four months from the date the proposal was received. In practice, the VOA is committed to the internal target of completing this process within TWO months.

Within SIX weeks of receipt of a proposal a copy must be served on the BA, where that BA has opted in, and on any party who appears to be the taxpayer of the dwelling, other than the proposer. Each copy of a proposal must be served with a covering statement of the effects of Appeal Regs 9-12.

Within SIX weeks from the decision notice, or date of agreement, the list must be altered where the proposal is well founded or agreement is reached.

Cases should be scrutinised on receipt to ensure they are progressed without delay. For instance, where there is an indication of financial hardship, which is made worse by the CT banding, the caseworker should respond to any request from the proposer for early discussion.

3.6.1 Appeal Reg 9 Powers – Well Founding and Agreement

The LO should investigate the band and make a decision within two months of the date of receipt of the proposal

● Whether the proposal is well-founded – in which case the list must be altered
● Whether the proposal is part well-founded – e.g. a reduction is warranted, but not to the band proposed
● Whether the proposal is wholly not well-founded.
A decision notice must be served in writing on:
(a) the proposer
(b) the taxpayer of the dwelling to which the proposal relates
(c) any other competent person (who would have been able to make a proposal at the date of the decision notice).

Reg 9(b) sets out various circumstances and what the LO may do.

● It requires the LO to alter the list where the proposal is well-founded (Reg 9(b)(i) states “the LO shall decide to alter the list accordingly”)
● It allows the LO to reach agreement where part well-founded (e.g. where the proposal seeks a reduction, but not to the band proposed)
● It allows the LO to reach agreement even when the whole of the proposal is not well-founded and the terms of the agreement are wholly different from the proposal. (e.g. agreement would be possible for an increase where the proposal sought a reduction, or vice versa).
● Apart from well-founding, where the LO cannot reach agreement, or the LO decides not to adopt this course, then the LO has a discretion as to ‘whether or not to alter the list’, notwithstanding the objections of any other party to the proposal.
It will be seen from the above that the discretion of the LO is quite wide in dealing with proposals before appeal stage. LOs, therefore, may enter into discussions with the proposer, and any other identified competent party, and may alter the list according to the LO’s duty to maintain a correct list.

3.6.2 Investigation of Proposals

Arriving at a decision is known as making a “considered decision”. In doing so, a review of the list entry might include checking:

(i) Inspection Support Data – a useful CDB tool which gives details of the current and last previous bands, how the current band was settled/introduced, the current property attributes and details of the last sale linked to the dwelling. This information can be obtained by location or postcode.

(ii) 1991 Sales Evidence – the two main sources of domestic sales around the AVD are MILO (a CDB application available for some locations where selected historic sales can be output) and Street Sheets (an index for historic property sales which can be accessed through EDRM).

(iii) Settlement Detail Sheets and CTVS (including previous Tribunal and High Court decisions) – now stored as part of EDRM.

(iv) Comparable Selection Tool - this application should be operated in accordance with Comparable Selection Tool - Guidance on Use

(v) Digital Mapping

(vi) Property Related Internet Sites – these include websites that contain aerial, satellite and street level photography, but also cover other public sites that hold property information. There are limitations to their use and any access must be in accordance with the Policy on VOA use of public websites

3.6.3 Content of Decision Notices

To assist caseworkers, examples of DN content, and pro forma letters containing supplementary information to accompany DNs, are available from the CT Appeals Direct Resource Kit

Once issues have been investigated, the DN is output from the CDB and sets out the right to appeal the decision to the Valuation Tribunal England (VTE). Drop down lists on the CDB application will allow the caseworker to detail (i) what the decision is and (ii) the broad reason for the decision.

Additional evidence, supporting the decision, should also be provided using the Supporting Information Document (VO 7410). This form can be used to attach further comparable banding evidence as well as broad sales information. As the considered decision relates to valid proposals and not appeals, legislation precludes the caseworker from providing comprehensive details of sales (e.g. full addresses by which specific dwellings can be identified).

Where an agent/representative is acting on behalf of a taxpayer, a copy of the decision notice must be provided to them.

Before a decision is reached a discussion should have taken place with the taxpayer and, if necessary, a further discussion should take place once a decision has been made. This second discussion is to explain the reason for the decision and to outline the options available should the taxpayer remain unhappy. It is essential that all the issues raised by the proposer, in the original proposal and subsequent discussions, are covered when supplying the DN.

For many formal challenge cases, once a decision notice has been issued the matter will be closed. It is for the taxpayer/proposer to decide, after receiving the formal decision, whether they want to accept the decision or appeal directly to the VTE. See Section 3 part 4.

3.7 Activity Codes

Activity Codes have been developed to provide statistical data to client bodies about the progress of both valid and invalid proposals and appeals. They are also used for VOA management purposes.

The full list of activity codes currently built into the application can be obtained from accessing the CT Mini Work Aid

3.8 Visits

All proposals should be considered initially from the desk. Caseworkers should only visit with the consent of the occupier(s) and by appointment.

Where the proposal relates to features of the dwelling which require verification, or changes in the dwelling’s locality that require judgement as to effect on value, the property should be inspected and careful, dated notes taken. Any necessary photographs, taken with the permission of the proposer, must also be dated when added to CDB and a record kept of who took the photographs.

Relevant updates should be noted on the CTVS and an ELDA plan created if required. The appropriate activity code must be selected and input to the computer record immediately. Further information on the policy on making visits is provided in Section 2 part 3.

3.9 Discussions with Proposers

During the discussion, the proposer should be asked to expand upon the grounds for seeking an alteration to the banding. Adequate notes should be taken, and added to the CTVS. The proposer may provide details in documentary form, e.g. sales particulars. Whenever possible, the caseworker should borrow them, photocopy relevant information and subsequently immediately return the original(s) by post.

3.10 Council Tax Valuation Sheets (CTVS)

A CTVS is the document on which a caseworker records the thought processes in relation to the available evidence and banding decision. It is produced via the Comparable Selection Tool for all required case types using the reviewed/updated property attribute data. The CTVS should record

(i) Key issues of the original enquiry and any subsequent representations made by the taxpayer.

(ii) Any necessary supplementary evidence with comments on its relevance

(iii) The valuation/banding notes (including effective date) and clear reasons explaining the decision.

(iv) Any potential consequential banding on other properties has been considered and CR15/ CR09 reports instigated where appropriate.

(v) If comparables selected by the Comparable Selection Tool are considered to be poor, or otherwise not relevant, an explanatory note must be provided.

3.11 Transmission of Appeals from the VTE to the VOA

Following the introduction of Appeals Direct, it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to appeal directly to the VTE if they wish to challenge a considered decision provided in a DN. When an appeal is submitted to the VTE the details are transmitted electronically from the VTE to the VOA. The VTE log on the CDB should be accessed daily and, when an appeal has been transmitted, the relevant appeal dockets will be automatically printed. These should be attached to the original proposal papers and passed to the caseworker for action.

3.12 Consequential Matters
Following the settlement of a proposal, consideration must be given to any consequential review of the bandings of other dwellings which may be necessary. Further information on consequentials can be accessed from the CT& HA homepage.

3.13 Quality Checking

A sample of cleared proposals will be selected for valuation integrity checks. 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.

3.14 Retention of Papers

Documentation, including the CTVS, correspondence and the original proposal, must be scanned into the relevant case file in EDRM. A complete guide to scanning documents into EDRM, how to name, save and protectively mark them, can be found on the EDRM Homepage

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