In this section
VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates.
Legislation for Wales is held in Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 290 The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists & Appeals) Regulations – SI 1993/290
Once a proposal has been checked for completeness and validity, and coded in accordance with the CT Mini Work Aid, it should be input to 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 (Code CA20) 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 is to procedurally withdraw the proposal and re-register it linked to the correct address. 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 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 agent’s’ 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.
On the day following registration, working dockets and proposal acknowledgement letters should be requested from the CDB. Owing to the limitations of the application, it is not normally possible for these to be output on the same day as registration. However, if required, they can be output on the same day from the CDB by accessing ‘generate working dockets and acknowledgement letters’ and selecting by case number.
The documents which will be output to hardcopy are the working docket (VO 7456)
, and the acknowledgement letter VO7852.
Documents should be checked against the proposal. Any errors arising from input should be highlighted with the correction required shown in red on the appropriate document. These errors should then be corrected on the CDB.
Where incorrect details are shown on the acknowledgement letter, the generated letter should be destroyed and a replacement obtained from MS Word Template.
There is normally no need to keep an office copy of the acknowledgement letter
, but, if it is unusual in any way, a copy should be saved in EDRM. Computer-generated copy acknowledgement letters should be destroyed as restricted waste.
Letters must be posted on the day on which they have been produced. This date appears on the working docket as the date acknowledged.
Copies of proposals may be required in accordance with paragraph 3.4 and/or paragraph 3.5 below.
The Valuation Tribunal will also require a copy if the appeal proceeds to a hearing. Some Tribunals require a copy as soon as the papers have been transmitted, and some immediately prior to listing. There is no longer any requirement to make these copies at registration stage unless it is deemed to be more efficient. All copies should be made using the photocopier.
The copy must be accompanied by a letter VO 7713 from MS Word Template. A copy must be stored in EDRM.
Copies to taxpayers must be served within six weeks of receipt.
The date of the transmission of a copy, and the initials of the person who prepared it, should be entered on the working docket in the space against "Date copy IPP sent".
If a BA has served notice on the LO that it wishes to receive "copies of a class or classes of proposals" under Reg 9(1)(b), it will be necessary to provide copies within six weeks of their receipt. Copies should, however, be forwarded to the BA in weekly batches, accompanied by a compliment slip.
If the proposal challenges a LO notification, a copy of that notification should be included with the case papers.
If the proposal has resulted from previous enquiry correspondence, a note indicating this should be included in the case papers.
The case should then be passed to the designated caseworker.
It is essential that proposals are dealt with in a speedy manner, particularly in view of the VOA’s target to provide a “considered view” within 60 days, and to settle cases or have them “ready for hearing” within six months of receipt.
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.
If a proposal is not to be treated as well-founded, the VOA is currently charged with providing the appellant with a “considered view” of the proposal in all instances within 60 days of the proposal being received. Activity Code 40 is the appropriate code to validate that this has happened (see paragraph 3.9 below).
When a proposal is treated as valid, the VOA is currently charged with investigating the banding and issuing a considered decision within two months. A review of the list entry might consist of checking:
(i) Inspection Support Data –
A useful CDB tool which gives details of the current and immediately preceding 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) Sales Evidence – The main sources of domestic sales around the AVD can be obtained from PT domestic enquiries on the CDB.
(iii) Settlement Detail Sheets and CTVS (including previous Tribunal and High Court decisions) – now stored as part of EDRM.
(iv) Comparable Selection Tool outputs - 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 there use and any access must be in accordance with the Policy on VOA use of public websites
The full list of activity codes currently built into the application can be obtained from accessing the CT Mini Work Aid
Where the LO agrees with the change to the CT List entry as proposed and all the necessary alterations, e.g. to address or effective date, are shown, this proposal should be treated as “well-founded”. It is not necessary for the agreement procedure to be followed and instead, under Regulation 10, the LO must serve notice on the appellant and on the current taxpayer (if different) and then alter the list.
Caseworkers should always consider whether it is possible to use the well-founded procedure before issuing agreement forms.
The well-founded procedure can be used at any time right up to an actual VT hearing. Guidance on this point has been confirmed by the Solicitor’s Office of the Board of Inland Revenue. Reg 19(1) of SI1993/290 (which Regulation, by its very terms, can only come into play after a proposal has been referred as an appeal to the VT), gives the LO the right to withdraw a proposal from the VT.
This right is subject only to Reg 19(2) which requires the written consent of every other party to the withdrawal. This in turn is subject to Reg 19(3) which provides for Reg 19(2) not to apply when the List is to be altered in accordance with the proposal. When this is invoked, it is essential that the VT is informed of the procedural withdrawal of the appeal to enable their database to be updated.
Using the well-founded procedure could, however, disadvantage a person who is not the appellant but is nevertheless a “competent person” who has opted-in under Reg 12(2)(e). In such instances, in order that a person is not disadvantaged, the agreement procedure should be used rather than the well-founded procedure and the agreement sought of the person who has opted-in.
Having treated a proposal as well-founded, the caseworker should complete the working docket and the case passed for clearance. Activity Code 40 should be input into the CDB.
The case should be cleared on the CDB by inputting the relevant details. The revised entry will then appear automatically in the next Schedule of Alterations.
Letter VO 7736 should be obtained from MS Word Template with the relevant paragraphs completed. Using this text is mandatory. The date to be included as the date the proposal is well-founded must be the date of the letter in all instances. VO 7736s must be signed by the LO personally, by the on-site team leader, or by a caseworker or above who has been personally nominated by the LO to sign agreements on his/her behalf. The letter should be issued to the appellant immediately and copied to any other person who appears to be the taxpayer for the dwelling. A copy should be kept with the case papers. The date of the letter should be input to the computer for Activity Code 40 purposes.
For proposals considered as well-founded within three months of receipt see paragraph 3.22 below.
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.
During the discussion, the proposer/appellant 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/appellant 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. It is essential that all the issues raised by the proposer/appellant in the original challenge, and subsequent discussions, are covered when supplying the considered decision.
The caseworker should aim to achieve agreement/withdrawal when on site. If a formal offer to agree or withdraw is made, Activity Code 40 is appropriate and should be input immediately on return to the office. Details of the offer must be recorded clearly on the CTVS or in Case Remarks within the IT application for audit/validation purposes.
Code 40 is recorded on case activity on CDB and shows that an offer has been made. The details are recorded on the CTVS.
Following discussion and/or settlement with the proposer/appellant, it will be necessary on occasions to enter into discussions with other parties who have rights to be a party to an agreement or withdrawal or who have opted-in. These are detailed in paragraphs 3.17 and 3.20 below. Such discussions should always be conducted in a similar manner.
The authority to issue Notices is contained in S.27 (2) of LGFA 92. Detailed instructions are given in Section 3 part 4. Where the LO is in possession of Notices, they may be quoted when discussing a proposal at any stage prior to a VT Hearing.
Information from Particulars Delivered (PD)/SDLT data can be used in evidence under Reg 26(3) of SI 1993/290 but the LO must comply with the requirement to serve a Notice under that Regulation (see Section 3 part 4). PD/SDLT information can be used at any stage after an appeal has been transmitted to the VT. Any difficulty with appellants over the confidentiality of PD /SDLT information should be dealt with tactfully. It should be explained that this is personal information which should not be divulged without the consent of the parties except after an appeal has been transmitted to the VT.
The use of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) forms is currently subject to discussions and the SDLT Office, as these are not specifically covered by Reg 26. If a LO feels it is necessary to use information contained in a SDLT form advice MUST be taken from the CT Technical Adviser.
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.
Two non-statutory forms have been designed and should be used wherever possible. They are available from MS Word Template:-
for use when the Proposal has not yet been transmitted as an appeal;
for use when the appeal has been transmitted to the VT.
If a withdrawal is received in the form of a letter, it should be attached to a withdrawal form which should be marked “see letter attached”.
Suitable standard paragraphs for use when forwarding a withdrawal form to the appellant are included as part of letter VO 7730.
● the proposer
● the taxpayer at date of withdrawal. (This person’s agreement is only required where the proposer submitted the proposal in the capacity of taxpayer but is no longer the taxpayer.)
Where more than one person is the taxpayer at the date of withdrawal, the withdrawal of one of them is to be treated as a withdrawal by all of them (Reg 11(2)).
If the dwelling is unoccupied the owner is deemed to be the taxpayer and his/her signature is required.
If the present taxpayer declines to agree in writing to the withdrawal of a proposal made by a previous taxpayer, the withdrawal cannot take effect. In such circumstances, the case will have to be transmitted to the VT, and, very likely, heard.
A proposal may be withdrawn after transmission to the VT provided the signatures of all the parties to the appeal other than the LO are obtained. These are:-
- the appellant;
- the taxpayer at date of appeal;
- the taxpayer at date of withdrawal;
- any other person who would have been competent to make the appeal, usually either the owner or the BA, and has within three months beginning on the date on which the appeal was served on the LO, served notice that they wish to be party to the proceedings ("opted-in").
Further information on the opting-in procedure is given in Appendix 3.6.
When the LO has received a withdrawal from a proposer/ appellant (and, if the appeal was made by a former taxpayer, the concurrence of the current taxpayer has been received), the caseworker should complete the details required on the CTVS and the working docket, and pass the papers for clearance on the CDB, using the appropriate settlement code. The date to be input is the date of receipt of the signed withdrawal.
Accordingly, it is important that the signed withdrawal form is date-stamped on receipt. When a withdrawal form is signed at the time of a caseworker’s visit to a property, it must be date-stamped when the caseworker returns, using the date the signature was obtained as the date of receipt. On occasion, it may be necessary to temporarily reset the date stamp in order to do this.
There is no requirement to notify the BA that a proposal has been withdrawn. For retention of papers, see paragraph 3.26 below.
Regulation 12 and Regulation 19(3) provide for settlements by agreement.
The agreement forms are available from MS Word Template in five versions - one for each type of agreement. These correspond with the tick boxes on the pre-printed version and are numbered:-
VO 7475 – Amendment
VO 7476 - New Entry
VO 7477 – Deletion
VO 7478 - Deletion and New Entry(ies); i.e. where a split or merger of current entries occurs.
VO 7479 - Alteration of Historical Entry(ies); i.e. where the entry or entries being altered are not the current ones; for example, where a proposal is made to reduce a band but, before it is agreed, the LO alters the List on account of a material increase and subsequent relevant transaction. In these circumstances, the agreement on the original proposal will be in respect of an historic entry rather than a current entry
The same format as the pre-printed version is used for each, but any wording which relates to other types of agreement is excluded.
An invitation to agree letter (Appendix 3.10) may be used when sending out an agreement form for signature. When the offer made in the agreement form is the LO’s final decision on the case, the optional paragraph in the letter MUST be included.
An agreement form must be signed by all necessary parties taken from the list below. Before agreement forms, signed by at least one party, are forwarded to another party for signature, a copy of the original should be taken and kept with the case papers. This procedure should be followed each time a signature is added to the form and the previous photocopy destroyed. In this way, the signatures already obtained will be readily available should a partly signed form be lost in transit or not returned.
The parties whose written agreement is required to comply with Reg 12 are as follows:-
i) the Listing Officer;
ii) the appellant;
iii) the taxpayer at the date of appeal;
iv) the taxpayer at the date of agreement;
v) any other person who would have been competent to make the appeal, usually either the owner or the BA, and has within three months beginning on the date on which the appeal was served on the LO, served notice on the LO that they wish to be party to the proceedings.
Any requirement for the BA's signature would have been decided on initial registration of the appeal and the BA would be shown as a party to the appeal on the CT appeal parties sheet VO 7458.
A person who would have been “competent” to make the appeal (which includes the BA) has three months from the day the proposal was received by the LO to serve a notice stating that they wish to be party to the proceedings.
Accordingly where a proposal is agreed within three months of receipt, due to the possibility that a notice may be received from a “competent” person, the LO should not alter the List within that period. This will ensure that the rights of such a person are protected. In these circumstances, when writing to the appellant enclosing agreement forms, the optional paragraph which commences with “In order to comply with legal requirements……” must be inserted in letter VO7764. It is also imperative that letter VO7731 is issued to the appellant in accordance with Section 2 Part 4 paragraph 4.7 when the List is finally altered.
If no-one has become a party to the proceedings by the end of this period, the List can be altered. If the statutory six-week period, within which the LO is otherwise required to alter the List, expires before the end of the 3-month period, the alteration must be made as soon as practicable after the end of the 3-month period.
If, however, between the date of the agreement and the end of the 3-month period a competent person serves a notice, then their written agreement will be necessary before effect can be given to an alteration to the List which has already been agreed with the other parties. If no agreement is forthcoming the appeal will have to be settled by VT decision.
Waiting for the end of the three-month period should not delay the progressing of the agreement form and obtaining the signatures which are known to be needed, including that of the LO. When all the known signatures have been obtained, the papers should be retained in a special binder which should be set up for this purpose. Sub-divisions should be set up for each relevant date of Schedules generation (obtained from the Calendar of Overnight Generations) and the agreed appeal added to the relevant sub-division. The binder should be examined the day before each generation is due, and settlements which are to be included should be input to the Application (see paragraph 3.23 below). Any appeals decided by the VT within three months of receipt should be incorporated into this binder.
There will be instances, however, when it will be possible to “take the risk” and alter the List in advance of the end of any three-month period. This will be most likely when there is no intention of selling the appeal property AND the property is owner/occupied AND the BA does not as a rule opt-in to CT procedures. The caseworker is best placed to advise on the first two of these situations. In such instances, the optional sentence referred to above should NOT be included.
If a “competent” person opts in after the List has been altered, it will be necessary to undo the agreement in the CT List and seek the agreement of this person before restoring or changing the amendment.
When the agreement has been signed by all other parties, the caseworker must ensure that it is signed by, or on behalf of, the LO and dated. Agreement forms must be signed by the LO personally, by the on-site team leader, or by a caseworker at EO level or above who has been personally nominated by the LO to sign agreements on his/her behalf.
The CTVS and the working docket should then be completed and the papers passed for case clearance. The case should be cleared on the computer by inputting the relevant details including the appropriate settlement code. The revised entry(ies) will then appear automatically on the next Schedule of Alterations. The date to be input is the date shown on the agreement form. At all times, the aim must be to include the revised entry on the next available Schedule of Alterations (but see paragraph 3.22 above where the settlement is within three months of receipt of the appeal). The generation dates of Schedules are shown on the Calendar of Overnight Batch Generations available on the intranet.
There is no requirement to notify the BA of an agreement unless they have "opted-in". For retention of papers see paragraph 3.26 below.
It is the LO’s duty to ensure that an appeal to the VT is constituted by the transmission of a statement where:-
i) the LO is unable to treat a proposal as well-founded; or
ii) the proposal has not been withdrawn and there has been no settlement by agreement; or
iii) a proposal has been withdrawn but there is an outstanding notice which means that it is to be treated as an appeal made by an interested person.
Regulation 13 requires that a proposal is transmitted to the VT within six months. In order to comply with a request from the Valuation Tribunal Service for earlier transmission, the computer application has been set so that all transmissions are automatically made after 30 calendar days. This cannot be delayed or advanced.
Transmissions are carried out by means of a central overnight transfer between the VOA and the VT computer systems. Transfers are set up using the scheduling tool and carried out on a weekly basis.
The appeal statement is incorporated into the VO7705 acknowledgement letter. There is therefore no requirement to notify the appellant that the proposal has been transmitted to the Valuation Tribunal.
At any point in time when it is requested, and in all instances before the hearing, a photocopy of the appeal should be made (see paragraph 3.3 above) and forwarded to the VT.
At present the LO is charged with agreeing the factual basis of the case within six months of the receipt of the originating proposal so that the case is “ready for hearing”. This will normally amount to a discussion between the taxpayer and the LO’s caseworker when certain facts, such as the features of the dwelling, can be agreed, and the points in contention, which the VT will be asked to decide, are clarified.
When this action has been completed, Activity Code 50 must be input immediately into the CDB. It is the caseworker’s responsibility to ensure that this is carried out.
It is essential that input of Code 50 information is made promptly as this Activity Code is fundamental in establishing the VOA’s performance against the requirement for cases to be “settled or ready for hearing” within six months. It should be noted that “ready for hearing” does not mean that all VT presentation packs are prepared, but that the items agreed and items in dispute are clear between the parties.
3.25 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. Current information on consequentials can be found via a link from the CT & HA homepage.
If there is a proposal outstanding for one of these dwellings, this should be settled following the above procedures.
If there is no proposal/appeal outstanding and an alteration to the banding is clearly warranted, a LO report should be raised and dealt with in accordance with Section 2.
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. These identify the correct processes that should be undertaken when dealing with all Council Tax casework.
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, what to call them, where to save them and how to protectively mark them can be found via a link from The EDRM Homepage.