Bills

Why challenging your council tax bill could land you with a nasty surprise

More than 120 homeowners in Kirklees had their council tax bills reduced after they challenged how much they should pay.

But as many as four households had a nasty surprise after they asked for their council tax band to be reviewed – only to see their bills INCREASED.

If you think your council tax bill is wrong you can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to review it.

Some people believe their homes were over-valued when council tax bands were set in 1991.

But others have fallen foul of thinking they were paying too much, only to find neighbours in identical homes were paying more.

New figures show the VOA decided 430 challenges in Kirklees last year, with almost a third, some 120, getting a their council tax band lowered, thereby saving them money on their bills.

Kiklees council tax bill

But at least one family in Kirklees actually had their bill increased after challenging it in hope of a cut.

The VOA has not revealed how often this happened or where these people lived, only that there were between one and four cases in the district in 2016/17.

Overall, 160 Kirklees properties had their council tax band increased by the VOA in 2016/17, most of which had never asked for a review.

A further 180 had theirs decreased as part of the ongoing VOA re-banding review.

People who have extended their houses are at risk of having to move up a council tax band.

In January the Examiner reported that Almondbury pilot Martyn Young received a letter out of the blue saying his council tax bill was going to rise by £677.

Mr Young, was landed with a 37% increase after his detached property was moved from band E to band G by the VOA following a banding challenge by one of his neighbours.

Martyn Young of Benomley Road, Almondbury, whose council tax valuation band has jumped from E to G
Martyn Young of Benomley Road, Almondbury, whose council tax valuation band has jumped from E to G

There were 30 cases nationwide where the VOA increased the tax band of households who believed they should be paying less.

In 2015 an entire street in Hull had to pay £160 more council tax because someone complained that their tax was higher than that of their neighbours.

Homes on Lynton Avenue in the East Yorkshire city were ‘upgraded’ to Band B from Band A following one resident’s complaint that their bill was higher than the rest.

The amount of council tax you pay in England, Wales and Scotland, is based on the value of your property and the band this puts you in.

Band A properties have the cheapest bills while Band H properties (or Band I in Wales) pay the most to their local council.

In England and Scotland, the bands are based on property valuations made in April 1991.

More than 10,000 households have succeeded in lowering their council tax band in England and Wales.

The VOA said it resolved 42,250 challenges between April 1 2016 and March 31 2017.

Of these, 30 households saw an increase in their council tax band, 10,670 saw a reduction and 31,550 saw no change.

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