Council Tax has, outside of the local authorities own procedures, two main avenues of appeal that can be used.
Each of these avenues of appeal serves different purposes and care should be made to use the correct one. Failing to do so can lead to the appeal being rejected and/or a non-enforceable outcome being reached.
The Local Government Ombudsman
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is a body which can hear disputes regarding many different local authority issues. For Council Tax purposes the LGO can normally deal with queries only where there is no the route of appeal via a tribunal, i.e. the Valuation Tribunal, and will tend to dismiss appeals where there are alternative routes of appeal (for example LGO case 16 004 769).
Verdicts by the LGO are not binding on a local authority (although most will tend to follow their decision).
The Valuation Tribunal
The Valuation Tribunal (VT) deal with disputes involving such areas as Council Tax liability and discount or exemption eligibility. VT decisions are binding on a Local Authority (subject only to a High Court decision).
In most cases you would be best placed to use a VT for Council Tax purposes however in some cases, such as maladministration, a case may also fall in to an area which is within the LGO’s remit.
Rejection by the Ombudsman
It should be noted that LGO decision notices would appear to show that many of cases they receive do not fall within their remit so it is always good to check before you make an appeal as who is able to deal with it. For example you may by disputing Council Tax liability and their lack of consideration of your ability to pay – the VT would deal with the liability dispute and the LGO with their lack of consideration over payments.
Before using the LGO or the Tribunal
Before using the LGO or Tribunal you should always have tried to deal with the Council first and use their complaints procedure where possible.
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This article is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax experts, based on our interpretation of legislation. Your local authority is free to dispute this view. A binding decision may require the intervention of a valuation tribunal.