Section 13a appeal rights

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  • #20657
    martin walmsley
    Participant

    I would appreciate anyone’s views on the following query.

    This relates to Section 13A Local Government Finance Act 1992 as inserted by Section 76 of the Local Government Act 2003 and subsequent appeal rights.

    Section 13A empowers a billing authority as follows:
    (1) Where a person is liable to pay Council Tax in respect of any chargeable dwelling and any day, the billing authority for the area in which the dwelling is situated may reduce the amount which he is liable to pay as respects the dwelling and the day to such extent as it thinks fit.
    (2) The power under subsection (1) above includes power to reduce an amount to nil.
    (3) The power under subsection (1) may be exercised in relation to particular cases or by determining a class of case in which liability is to be reduced to an extent provided by the determination.”

    We have received an application from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau requesting a reduction in the amount payable to nil in respect of one of their clients. This was turned down and now the CAB have appealed against our decision to the Valuation Tribunal.

    Having spoken to the VT they were initially nervous of this as they saw Section 13A as discretionary and they would find it difficult to rule against the authority’s decision, as long as that decision was arrived at fairly and was not totally perverse.

    However, their view changed and I believe they are referring to Council Tax Information Letter 8/2003 which states that:

    Section 13A – Appeals
    ‘The decision of the Authority not to make a reduction under Section 13A of the 1992 Act can be challenged by a taxpayer under Section 16(2)(b) of the 1992 Act. Section 16(2)(b) provides a right of appeal for a person who disagrees with the calculation of an amount of Council Tax which he is liable to pay.’

    In the same CTIL note:
    ‘The decision of the Authority not to make a reduction under Section 11A of the 1992 Act can be challenged by a taxpayer under Section 16(2)(b) of the 1992 Act. Section 16(2)(b) provides a right of appeal for a person who disagrees with the calculation of an amount of Council Tax which he is liable to pay.

    The determination made by a billing authority in accordance with Section 11A of the 1992 Act (i.e. to reduce the discount in relation to second homes or reduce or remove it in relation to long term empty homes) can only be challenged by judicial review – see paragraph 49 of Schedule 7 to the Local Government Act 2003 which amended Section 66 (judicial review) of the 1992 Act.’

    Section 66 of the LGA 1992 has been amended to include appeals under Sections 11A and 12 of the LGA 2003, but fails to mention Section 13A.

    Is this a loophole, otherwise the VTS is in the position of overruling a determination taken by the Council under its discretionary powers.

    Section 16 refers to ‘a calculation of the amount payable’ Is this situation a calculation of the amount payable or a determination by the Council?

    Should a distinction be drawn in Section 13A between individual cases and classes of cases? i.e.

    Individual cases – a reduction or remittance under Section 13A (1) and (2) could go to judicial review on appeal (a determination – as Section 11A and 12)

    whereas the non granting of a class discount under Section 13A (3) could go the Valuation Tribunal (a decision – as Section 11A and 12)

    If this is a loophole, how is the loophole closed.

    Your comments would be appreciated.

    Martin Walmsley
    (on behalf of Paul Taylor
    (Revenues Manager)
    City of Lincoln Council)

    #3308
    Bob_Wagstaff
    Participant

    Martin

    I can’t see how an individual can award in this area can be anything other than discretionary, in which case it would have to go for judicial review as you have suggested.

    The power to appeal against the liability is to ensure that the liability is calculated correctly within the legislation, so it is designed to ensure that those entitled to a 25% or 50% discount get such a discount. I don’t see how that could include a “discretionary” reduction.

    Perhaps if a council made a decision to award a discount to a category of people (say people with tattooes) and then refused to apply that discount appropriately (I’ve got a tattoo, but I’m not showing you where because it’s personal) I would expect that it could go before the VT, as the Council hasn’t followed the rules it has laid down itself, but otherwise I can’t see how it could.

    #3309
    benwat
    Participant

    When CTIL 8/2003 was issued I raised this with the then ODPM and was advised that if a local authority introduced a class of discount then an indvidual could appeal to the VT if they were not receiving a reduction but believed that they were within the class.

    I then asked for clarification that the appeal to VT was only where a class had been determined and was told that the ODMP’s view was that the appeal right was not restricted to cases where a class had been determined.

    Probably not what you wanted to hear…

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