The Government has said it will consider reform of the council tax appeals system during a live radio debate today.
This comes the day after the coalition shelved plans to revalue council tax bands in England and Scotland, saying it would cost households an average £320 a year.
Around 400,000 are paying the wrong amount of tax. Some are paying too much, others too little.
For those paying over the odds, when they appeal, they are often rejected if they have lived in their home over six months (see the Council Tax Rebanding guide).
Bob Neill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, speaking on BBC Radio 2 today, admitted he did not know how the appeals system worked when pressed by presenter Jeremy Vine.
This followed an interview with MoneySavingExpert.com's Martin Lewis on the same show who called upon the Government to ensure those who appeal their banding, often to reduce the amount they pay and get a refund of over-paid sums, are always allowed to do so, regardless of when they moved to their property.
Neill asked Martin to write to him with his concerns and this letter has now been sent (see the full text below).
When asked on air about the appeals process, the minister first said there was an appeals system, but when asked about the six month cut-off, he said: "This is a very technical area so I cannot answer it now, but if MoneySavingExpert.com has any concerns please write to me."
The amount of council tax you pay depends on the band your property was placed in in 1991 but these were often calculated on what is known as 'second gear valuation' because assessors literally drove by your home in second gear to make their judgement. In England & Scotland, they've not been revalued since.
On the Government's decision to scrap plans to revalue all homes, Neill added: "I don't think we should do a national revaluation. The cost would be £90 million to £180 million and this money could be better spent elsewhere.
"When there was a revaluation in Wales four times as many people went up a band than down and the biggest increases were for the least well off."
Martin Lewis's open letter to Bob Neill
Dear Mr Neill
Following the discussion on the Radio 2 Vine programme today, you invited me to write to you about the issues raised over people struggling to appeal their council tax banding.
We are very concerned that 100,000s of houses are currently in the wrong band, as raised by Eric Pickles in 2008 when, as the Shadow Cabinet Communities and Local Government Secretary, he announced Labour was covering up the fact 400,000 people were in the wrong band.
The government is now saying there will not be a wholesale revaluation in England, thus leaving people still in the same bands as in 1991, and if it was incorrect then, it is still incorrect now, leaving the many thousands in too high a band still paying too much.
Of the millions of people who've tried our check and challenge council tax system, many then have evidence they are in too high a band.
Our concern is when they ask for a revaluation of their property the vast majority are told they cannot do so as there is a rule saying they can only appeal if they've been in their properties LESS than six months.
The only solution we have found to this is to suggest people challenge the integrity of the valuation list, which only the savvy and financially literate tend to pull off, leaving some, including many vulnerable people, left on the sidelines.
Therefore, as a full scale review isn't going ahead, and we are left with valuations done in a rush back in 1991, we would ask that you please give everyone the right of easy appeal regardless of when they moved into their property.
I would be delighted to discuss this with you at your soonest convenience or send case studies to prove it (though I'm sure the VOA will confirm).
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