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Hello everyone, 

I have a question for my council tax and I was hoping to get a straight answer from someone here. 

 

My mother has Alzheimer's and I'm her unpaid live in carer.

I recently took over paying council tax as she is now exempt.

 

I've been filling in the forms the local authority asked me, although they kept sending me the wrong ones.

I applied for the exemption for my mum based on her condition and they have accepted this and put the bill in my name.

I then applied for a reduction based on the fact that I was a carer and I receive carers allowance and income support. 

 

They have now written back to me to say I didn't include my mum as a dependent on my form and so they have made the decision based on the assumption that she is on high income, as she gets PIP.

 

They're closed over the weekend, but I wanted to ask if I should have included her as a dependent, given that she's already been considered as being exempt? 

Thank you!

 

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Who is the tenant or owner of the property - is it you or your mother ?

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Thank you for your reply.

The house is in joint ownership at the moment. My mother is one of the owners and her ex husband owns the other half until the divorce settlement is sorted. I don't own any part of it. 

My mum was recently exempt from paying council tax, as they deemed her to have a severe mental impairment.

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If the council have made you liable then they have done so in error (or on the basis of unclear information).

You cannot claim council tax benefit as you do not have the highest legal interest under s6 of the LGFA 1992. As the resident owner your mother retains the highest interest for council tax purposes.

Although your mother is disregarded as SMI that doesn't stop her remaining as the liable person for council tax purposes (people often confuse the issue of liability and disregards - even council staff sometimes do). Therefore she is both the liable party for payment and the party who has to claim council tax benefit.
 

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I've spoken to them so many times.

they kept insisting I put the bill in my name since she is no longer liable.

I am her daughter and live in carer- something I've made clear from the start and I pay no mortgage or rent. 

 

The people I've spoken to at the local council insist that I should be named on the bill and my mother be taken off and then I'll be entitled to a large reduction due to being on carers allowance and income support.

 

It's clear people on the phones don't know what they're talking about and I honestly am struggling to care for my mum as it is and don't have the time for the back and forth.

 

Where is the best place to get this resolved?

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I'll post a full response to this tomorrow explaining the legislation etc. (my day job is dealing with council tax complaints and disputes).

 

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Thank you. Please let me know if it makes a difference which local council I am under.

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Before any discounts or exemptions are discussed the council have to first determine liability - liability is determined under s6 of the LGFA 1992 and is not something councils have delegated powers over. Liability and discounts/exemptions are two separate determinations and only in a few specific cases do they overlap.

 

Under s6(2) there is a list, the hierarchy of liability. This list is worked down from the top to bottom and gives a description - resident freeholder, resident leaseholder etc. The resident who comes nearest the top of the list is the party liable for the council tax charge (if more than one person falls at the same point on the list then they are jointly liable).

 

 

Quote

 

6  Persons liable to pay council tax

(1)     The person who is liable to pay council tax in respect of any chargeable dwelling and any day is the person who falls within the first paragraph of subsection (2) below to apply, taking paragraph (a) of that subsection first, paragraph (b) next, and so on.
 

(2) A person falls within this subsection in relation to any chargeable dwelling and any day if, on that day--

(a)     he is a resident of the dwelling and has a freehold interest in the whole or any part of it;

(b)     he is such a resident and has a leasehold interest in the whole or any part of the dwelling which is not inferior to another such interest held by another such resident;

(c)     he is both such a resident and a statutory[, secure or introductory tenant] of the whole or any part of the dwelling;

(d)     he is such a resident and has a contractual licence to occupy the whole or any part of the dwelling;

(e)     he is such a resident; or

[(ea)     in the case of a dwelling situated in the area of a billing authority in England, the person is a mortgagee in possession of the owner's interest in the dwelling; or]

(f)     he is the owner of the dwelling

 

 

Under s6(2)(a) your mother falls liable as having the higher interest. There is no provision in legislation for making someone further down the hierarchy of liability liable in place of someone who falls higher in the list - that is the error which has crept in here (you would be under s6(2)(e)).

 

There is a specific provision built in to s6, by way of s6(4), which covers people who are SMI or Students.

 

Quote

 

(3)     Where, in relation to any chargeable dwelling and any day, two or more persons fall within the first paragraph of subsection (2) above to apply, they shall each be jointly and severally liable to pay the council tax in respect of the dwelling and that day.

(4)     Subsection (3) above shall not apply as respects any day on which one or more of the persons there mentioned fall to be disregarded for the purposes of discount by virtue of [paragraph 2 (severely mentally impaired) or 4 (students etc) of Schedule 1 to this Act and one or more of them do not; and liability to pay the council tax in respect of the dwelling and that day shall be determined as follows--

(a)     if only one of those persons does not fall to be so disregarded, he shall be solely liable;

(b)     if two or more of those persons do not fall to be so disregarded, they shall each be jointly and severally liable.

 

 

What this provides for is that where there are multiple liable parties under s6(2), and some of those are SMI/Students, then the non-SMI/non-Student will fall liable. The important thing to note is that this provision only kicks in if the non-SMI/non-Student has the same legal interest under s6(2) - if the non-SMI/non-Student has a lower interest under s6(2) then the SMI/Student would still fall liable by way of having the higher legal interest.

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, purple_rain said:

South Gloucestershire

 

In respect of council tax reduction (CTR) the local authority has discretion to vary their scheme slightly providing they stay within the overall scheme limits set by government in some instances.

What the CTR scheme does not have the delegated powers to do is to alter a determination under council tax legislation in respect of liability. This includes the inability to pay a CTR claim to someone other than party who is liable for the council tax charge on a property. This requirement is, as required, covered in the council's CTR schemes at Part 3 (13)(1)(a), Part 3 (14)(2)(a) and Part 3 (15)(3)(a) of the council's pensioner CTR scheme and Part 1 (7)(e), Part 1 (7)(f), in respect of working age CTR claims.

 

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Thank you so much for such detailed replies.

 

So from what you're saying there is, that as long as my mother lives in and owns this property, she will always be liable for the council tax regardless of her status with SMI? 

 

So in theory, the council tax bill should remain in her name, where she's given full discount to her condition and I should be listed as a resident?

 

I have a couple of questions I hope you can help me with:

 

1. Would there still be an amount to pay since I'm living with her or would she be given a full discount regardless of who lives here  since the bill would be in her name? 

 

2. How do I get them to listen? Since I have spoken to them so many times and still they insist that I pay them and I've given them over £300 because they've been threatening me with legal action whilst I was waiting for their final calculation- which apparently is wrong. 

 

Thank you again for the invaluable advice. 

 

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Posted (edited)
Quote

So from what you're saying there is, that as long as my mother lives in and owns this property, she will always be liable for the council tax regardless of her status with SMI? 

  

So in theory, the council tax bill should remain in her name, where she's given full discount to her condition and I should be listed as a resident?

Yes to both, based on what you have posted.

Quote

 

1. Would there still be an amount to pay since I'm living with her or would she be given a full discount regardless of who lives here  since the bill would be in her name? 

 

On the basis that she is SMI and you are a carer, for council tax purposes, then a 50% discount applies as standard - any CTR would be against that amount.

Quote

 

2. How do I get them to listen? Since I have spoken to them so many times and still they insist that I pay them and I've given them over £300 because they've been threatening me with legal action whilst I was waiting for their final calculation- which apparently is wrong. 

 

It's not straightforward if they dig in. Most of the clients I deal with, and take to valuation tribunal, are because councils have dug in and refused to budge even after multiple attempts to resolve the issue.

Edited by ss002d6252
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On ‎10‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 13:32, ss002d6252 said:

On the basis that she is SMI and you are a carer, for council tax purposes, then a 50% discount applies as standard - any CTR would be against that amount.

 

It's not straightforward if they dig in. Most of the clients I deal with, and take to valuation tribunal, are because councils have dug in and refused to budge even after multiple attempts to resolve the issue.

 

After they sent me the letter, I tried to look online for information regarding dependents. I saw that they said they wouldn't consider a full time live in carer like myself who isn't in any other employment and is looking after a parent, an adult. I don't know what they mean by that specifically. If I'm not considered an adult, am I exempt entirely or am I just entitled to a discount?

 

I can imagine in my local council nothing is straight forward. Is it better to email rather than deal with them on the phone? Is it worth involving the local MP? 

 

Apologies for all the questions, I just want to make sure I can put this information to good use.

 

Thank you.

 

Edit: according to carers UK, I should be entirely exempt.

 

"

Council tax bills are generally based on the assumption that there are at least two adults living in the property. The bill will not increase if there are more than two people living in the property. However, if only one person or no-one lives in the property (or it is treated as such) a discount can be applied to the bill.

The following are examples of people who are ‘disregarded’ (treated as not living in the property) when it comes to calculating council tax.

Carers

To be ‘disregarded’ as a carer, you must meet all the following criteria:

  • you must provide care for at least 35 hours a week
  • you must live in the same property as the person you care for
  • you must not be the spouse or partner of the person you care for, or their parent if you care for a child under 18
  • the person you care for must be getting either the middle or higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (only the higher rate in Scotland), the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at any rate (only the enhanced rate in Scotland), Attendance Allowance at any rate (only the higher rate in Scotland), Armed Forces Independence Payment or the highest rate of Constant Attendance Allowance

You do not have to claim Carer’s Allowance to qualify for this discount, and your income and savings will not affect your eligibility. If there is more than one carer in the property, they can both be disregarded for council tax purposes as long as they all meet the conditions."

 

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There are two different issues at play here - until the council tax side is sorted  the CTR side can never be correct.
 

Don't get CTR and council tax discounts mixed up - they use different definitions and different rules. Within council tax a (non)dependant has no meaning (except for a couple of non-relevant specific situations) whereas (non)dependants are something that is relevant for CTR calculations.

It is clear that your mother and yourself are disregarded for council tax purposes so the 50% discount applies. How the council then treat yourselves for the CTR calculation on the remaining 50% depends on how their scheme treats both of you (and your incomes).

 

Quote

I can imagine in my local council nothing is straight forward. Is it better to email rather than deal with them on the phone? Is it worth involving the local MP?  

 

If the council are misinterpreting the situation it's far better, in my experience, to go down the route of disputing the legislative decision with them and using the valuation tribunal route if then needed - an MP knows nothing about the correct council tax legislation and so, if the council trust their own interpretation, it's not going to alter it. 

 

I very rarely use a phone for my cases because

a) it's difficult to speak with councils,

b) there's nothing in writing and

c) I like to set out the full technical argument so that the path to a tribunal is easier & quicker, if needed. If nothing else, a written medium stops miscommunication and gives the other side something to sit and read, and digest, properly.

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If my mother and I are both disregarded for council tax purposes, why would there still need to be consideration for the remaining 50% of council tax paid? There isn't anyone else living here.

 

Moving forward, would the best course of action be to contact them in writing explaining the following:

 

- Liability ought to be established first before any discounts are considered. I have been incorrectly labelled as liable.

 

- Under section 6 LGFA 1992, my mother should still be liable for the bill. Subsection 1 states that liability should be established by applying the paragraphs in subsection 2, in which the criteria are listed and prioritised, in order. The person who falls under the first paragraph of subsection 2 shall be liable. My mother falls under subsection 2 (a) and therefore is chargeable for the bill.

 

- Reiterate that there is only myself and mother in the property. I do not own or pay rent for the said property.

 

- My mother has joint ownership with someone who no longer lives there anymore.

 

- She has been determined as exempt under consideration for her SMI. She is on enhanced rate for PIP. 

 

- I am her live in carer and do not work in any other capacity. I claim carers allowance and income support. 

 

I would be grateful if you would let me know your thoughts so I can resolve the matter before they chase me for more money.

 

Thank you.

 

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The 50% discount is the statutory maximum that can be given by way of a council tax discount where each occupier is disregarded.

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Ok great, thank you. 

 

I had an email address for the local council tax office, so I will contact them.

 

Please let me know if you think there's anyone else I should contact.

 

Thanks again!

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On 10/03/2019 at 19:22, ss002d6252 said:

The 50% discount is the statutory maximum that can be given by way of a council tax discount where each occupier is disregarded.

 

Hello again,

 

Just as I was about to send the email today. I got a letter through the post from the local council tax office.

 

First, there was a bill for the outstanding amount of council tax I owe and it's due at the end of March. I've attached it beloe- hopefully you can see it. The bill is still addressed to me. 

 

Then they sent a form asking me to fill it in to apply for a discount as a residential carer. The form makes no sense to me whatsoever because it's asking about other adults at the property and who I care for etc, but I've already told them. I don't know of my mum would be considered an adult given that they've already said she's been disregarded.

 

I'm a little confused as to what to do next. Shall I pay first and then talk/email them? 

 

Thank you in advance.

15523632121304815245891458658713.jpg

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If the form is for a carers disregard for council tax (and not something to do with CTR) then you need to note your mother as the person you provide the care for (the fact that she is SMI doesn't remove the fact that she is the adult who you provide care for) . If it's a CTR form then there's nothing you can really do until the council tax liability is sorted.

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Thank you.

 

So, would it be best to pay, fill in the form and then go back and sort it out?

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If you can pay in full that would stop any action and it can be later refunded.

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I could have paid the amount they were asking for but now they're asking for even more money to be paid by 1st April.

 

I can't pay both amounts they've asked for within a day of each other.

 

What are my options now?

 

It's been so stressful. It's one thing after another.

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well surely you should have realised the next years bill was coming in april?

 


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To be paid by 1 April or on 1 April?  Is it next year's bill?

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