Council Tax Bands: Check & Challenge System

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Council Tax Band's - Check & Challenge System

The following is a News Release from Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert:

News Release. Monday 25 February 2008

Council tax bands check ‘n’ challenge system

Huge numbers have already reclaimed £1,000s due to misbanding.

The recent press discovery of a cover up over council tax bands is further evidence that hundreds of thousands could get cash back by following’s check ‘n’ challenge system. Since the campaign was launched in February 2007, over 3 million people have tried the system and the website is overloaded with success stories, including some who’ve got over £4,000 back.

By checking your band, it’s not just the current band that can be lowered, but a backdated payout to the date you moved in.

Why people can get so much back

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, the creator of consumer revenge website, came up with the cashback system. He explains:

“The amount you pay in council tax depends on which band you’re in. In England and Scotland, the bands depend on the 1991 valuation of house price values. Yet these didn’t involve someone coming to your home; many were ‘second gear valuations’, so called because estate agents would literally drive past houses and allocate a band. We’re still reliant on the same system meaning there are more holes than Swiss cheese."

“Many people are living in incorrectly banded houses, and with the internet it’s now possible to check and challenge your band for free, possibly winning a backdated payment from 1993, when the system started, worth £1,000s.”

Why people should reclaim NOW

Lewis is urging people to act now. He says:

“The closer we get to a revaluation, the more institutionally difficult it will be for someone to get their own house rebanded. Already if you’ve been in a property more than six months, you have to force a rebanding, and as we progress towards a national rebanding it could mean many miss out reclaiming the £1,000s they’ve overpaid.”

Money Saving Experts three step banding ‘check and challenge’

Step 1: Check your banding compared to your neighbours’.

Go to Valuation Office Agency - homepage (England and Wales) or Scottish Assessors Association* (Scotland), which allow you to check your council tax band and the band of any of your neighbours in similar houses for free (bands range from A to H, with H being more expensive houses). It’s very easy to do, and the results can be startling. If there looks to be a discrepancy, ie you’re in a higher band than neighbours in a similar property, you may have a case.

Step 2: Work out your house price at 1991 levels.

If there’s a chance you’re in the wrong band, to check, you bizarrely need to work out what your house was worth in 1991, because that’s how council tax bands are allocated. To do this, go to Council Tax Rebanding: Lower your band and save £1,000s... where you can find out, for free, all the homes in your street’s recent sale prices. Next, follow the instructions on how to use web house price inflation calculators to quickly calculate the 1991 price. Finally, compare this to the 1991 bands listed; if it looks like you should be a lower band, you’re in action.

Step 3: Challenge your band.

If both the above steps show you’re in the wrong band, then you can challenge it. However, remember that if you ask to be rebanded it is possible your band will be increased, not decreased. If you moved into the property in the last six months, it’s easy to ask your council to look at the banding. If not, even if it refuses to consider it, you can still push hard by writing and saying “I believe the council tax list is erroneous, and you have a duty to maintain its accuracy”. For full details on this go to Council Tax Rebanding: Lower your band and save £1,000s...

How widespread are the payments likely to be?

Martin Lewis, creator of comments:

“The success reports are constantly flowing in, as people work through the system and get their money. If you’re moved to a lower band, you get a backdated payout, for as long as you’ve been in the property, this means in most cases £1,000 to £5,000.”

“Therefore the clarion call is simple: everybody, everybody, everybody should take the ten minutes it takes to check if they’re in the right band.”