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Appendix 3.2 – England - Accepting Letters as Proposals

1. A letter may be accepted as a proposal, but only if it satisfies the basic requirements of a valid proposal set out in 2 below and Appendix 3.3.

2. Regulation 5 of SI 2009/2270 refers to the manner of making proposals and the information to be included in such a proposal. Reg 5(1) states:-
"A proposal shall be made by notice in writing served on the Listing Officer, and this notice shall:-

(a) state the name and address of the proposer, and the capacity in which the proposer makes the proposal;

(b) identify the dwelling to which it relates;

(c) identify the respects in which it is proposed the list be altered;

(d) and include –

i. a statement of the reasons for believing the List to be inaccurate;

ii. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(d), a statement of the reasons for the belief that an event mentioned in regulation 3 (1)(a) has occurred, and the date on which the event occurred;

iii. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(e), a statement identifying the property to which the decision in question relates and the date of that decision and (as the case may be) that the decision was a decision of the VTE or the High Court;

iv. if the proposal is made in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(3), a statement of the day on which the proposer became the taxpayer;

v. if the proposal disputes the accuracy of an alteration made by the LO, a statement of the day on which the LO served the relevant notice under regulation 12;

vi. if the proposal disputes the day from which an alteration should have effect, a statement of the day proposed in its place.

Reg 5(2) continues

A proposal may deal with more than one dwelling—

a. in the circumstances mentioned in regulation 4(1)(a); or

b. where the proposer makes the proposal in the same capacity as respects each dwelling, and each of the dwellings is within the same building as each other dwelling or, where any of them is not within a building, it is within the same curtilage as the other or others.

3. These statutory requirements are not widely known to the general public, and many taxpayers do not know what information has to be provided to the LO so that a formal proposal can be made against the band of their dwelling. In the past many letters have, therefore, automatically been treated as proposals in order to give the taxpayers the benefit of any doubt.

4. Regulation 4 sets out the circumstances and periods in which valid proposals can be made. These are shown in Appendix 3.4. Even when a letter is construed as purporting to be a proposal, it is likely to be invalid if it fails to comply with Regulation 4. This regulation does not allow much discretion to the LO, particularly in terms of periods in which proposals can be made.

5. Judgement on what constitutes a proposal, and whether it is invalid, must be based on a proper interpretation of the statutory provisions referred to above, but this can be tempered in areas of doubt by having regard to the intentions of the taxpayer when approaching the LO. Many taxpayers are wary of what they perceive to be bureaucratic procedures and prefer their enquiry to be dealt with more informally. Customer care should, therefore, be high on the list of priorities of any LO, and a flexible common sense approach should be adopted in cases of doubt, rather than making a strict legalistic interpretation of the taxpayer's wishes when writing to the LO.

6. If a letter is in the nature of an enquiry, it should NOT be treated as a proposal. In judging correspondence, a note must be made of the reasons why a letter has been treated as an informal enquiry or as a proposal, and in the case of a proposal whether it is to be treated as valid or invalid. The note must be signed and dated, and attached to the letter.

Letters may be simple requests for the LO to check the present band rather than to alter the List. They should be subject to the same checking procedures which are adopted following the disposal or transmission of an invalid proposal, i.e. a LO Report requested and the matter dealt with accordingly. Taxpayers often appreciate their request being dealt with informally and quickly rather than following the full procedures for invalid proposals.

Where there is a clear intention to seek an alteration to the CT List, this should be treated as a proposal, and the tests for validity set out in Appendix 3.3 should then be applied.

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