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Council Tax help please...


The Lantana
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Hello my dear friends.

 

My local council (Islington) sent me a council tax bill for £0.00 in March 2006 for the year 06/07. It stated on the bill 'Exemption Relief- Code N'.

 

I now know that this means full-time student, which I had previously been. Nevertheless I assumed it was correct because I was not earning at the time - I'd dropped out of college following a divorce. I was unemployed and living off credit cards etc.

 

In November 2006 my council sent me another bill for the year 06/07, this time for £1190. I was horrified. I phoned them straight away and to cut a long story short by the end of January 2007 they had agreed I was entitled to benefit.

 

So some good news, but they will not backdate the benefit - leaving me with £690 to pay. I have been appealing their refusal to backdate, and it is now set for a tribunal.

 

In the meantime my council has issued a summons to attend Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Thursday morning, and I'm at a loss as to what to do. My only income is means tested JSA - £59 per week.

 

Any guidance would be very much appreciated.

 

Regards

 

 

 

Lantana

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Whatever else, it is vital that you attend the hearing and put your case to the Court. Explain that you were out of work the whole time and would have been eligible for benefits had you known and would not therefore be liable for this bill.

You could point out that you had saved the Council money by not claiming benefits but living off credit cards, so it is unfair to ask you to pay this tax

when they would not only have waived the tax bill but paid you benefits as well had you claimed from the outset. Also point out that you have a tribunal

coming up to resolve the matter so coming to Court seems to be

duplicating procedures unnecessarily.

As a side note, have you told the division of the Council taking you to Court that there is a tribunal pending? If not, put it in writing now so that you have a record for the Court.

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Interesting experience at the Magistrates court today.

 

I arrived promptly for 0930hrs and was greeted in the court lobby by council revenue staff handing out letters to the masses saying if you were on benefit there was no need to attend court today - but they'd still apply for a liability order. The crafty devils.

 

I was angry, because they knew I was on benefit yet summonsed me. Also, I was unhappy about accepting a liability order plus council costs without my say in front of the Magistrate, so I protested. I think if I'd pushed it I might actually have started a riot! There were a lot of people there.

 

Anyway a council revenue official quickly came forward, took me aside and agreed to seek an adjournment until November 15th pending resolution of my benefit appeal. And he gave it to me in writing. He also admitted they had discretion to waive costs, so if my benefit appeal fails and I'm prepared to accept liability I may just have to pay the tax (not that I should have to pay that anyway!).

 

They really were very keen to prevent people from getting in front of the Magistrate - interesting that.

 

Anyway, roll on November 15th.

 

Thanks again for your help, Lookforinfo.

 

Regards

 

 

 

Lantana

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Hi Lantana,

well done for fighting your corner.... makes you wondr why they wrere so keen to stop people coming befor ethe judges, trying to keep all of their skeletons in the cupboard eh?

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Just think what would have happened if Lantana had not gone to Court today.

His case would have gone through on the nod. Bailiffs would have been appointed and his credit file would have been damaged.

The Council would have offloaded another case from their files making it look as if they are doing something positive to collect their tax, and no doubt

it would have resulted in them getting some money out of Lantana in

the immediate future [via the bailiffs] without having to wait for the result

of the tribunal.

And Lantana would have had to pay an additional amount to the bailiffs.

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