Arun District Council is urging residents to not hand over money to anyone contacting them about challenging their council tax band.
The council said a woman in Bersted was contacted by a company that said her home was in a higher council tax band than it should be and that she was entitled to a refund.
The woman was then told a £65 charge would be deducted by the company from the refund.
While this practice is not illegal, Arun is encouraging anyone wishing to check their banding for free to contact the government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The council said it would also never recommend giving bank or debit/credit card details over the phone or on the door step to any company or person a resident does not know or who they haven’t contacted themself.
Councillor Dudley Wensley, deputy leader of Arun District Council and cabinet member for corporate governance, said: “Residents wishing to challenge their council tax banding can have peace of mind they won’t be hit with additional and unnecessary charges if they contact the VOA to check their banding.
“The VOA provides valuations and property advice to support taxation and benefits to the government and councils in England, Scotland and Wales. They also provide valuation and surveying services to public bodies. The VOA compiles and maintains lists of council tax bands for 25 million domestic properties.
“The VOA will tell you how your Council Tax band has been worked out. They can review your band if you provide information that suggests it is wrong (e.g. evidence that similar properties in your street are in a different band).
“If they agree your band is wrong, they’ll put it right, the council will then update it and if you have overpaid, the council will give you a refund.”
In England, if people make a formal challenge and disagree with the VOA’s decision, they can appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal. Residents should be aware that if they ask for a reassessment, the band could be moved up as well as down, which would result in a higher council tax bill.
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