Home owners paying to much tax?

PUBLISHED: 10:22 20 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:13 10 June 2010

HUNDREDS of home owners in East Devon could for years have been paying too much council tax.

HUNDREDS of home owners in East Devon could for years have been paying too much council tax.

The Whitehall blunder could even lead to hundreds more having paid too little - and be forced to pay back-dated taxes.

The revelations come after the minutes of the Valuation Office Agency's Council Tax Revaluation Programme Board, England's council tax inspectors, were leaked.

The Government papers say thousands of UK homes were put in the wrong band will have to be revaluated by the Agency.

Appeals between 2005 and 2008 have led to 236 East Devon homes being moved up a band and 647 homes moved down.

The minutes say if the errors tax became known, the Government feared they would lose money and would have to pay refunds.

But the release of these documents were initially ruled out since it would generate "adverse press coverage... in the current climate".

East Devon MP Hugo Swire said that the combination of a campaign by 'Money Saving Expert' Martin Lewis, leaked minutes and an ITV Tonight documentary, had produced a surge in council tax appeals.

Now Parliamentary Questions have forced the Government to publish detailed figures on the changes to council tax bands.

He accused the Government of 'deliberately covering up' serious problems: "We now have clear evidence of a council tax cover-up.

"The Labour Government has been caught red-handed fiddling council tax to make families in East Devon and across the country pay more.

"Whitehall bureaucrats know that many homes across the country are wrongly banded, but have refused to correct the tax inspectors' errors to save the Government money and save face.

"The whole basis of our tax system is undermined if the state conspires to over-charge the public. Labour Ministers only want to reform the council tax system if it rakes in extra cash for Gordon Brown's coffers."

The original minutes - with comments blacked out can be found on: http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/DEP2008-0478-original.pdf and the amended minutes with redacted comments are at: http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/DEP2008-0478-withfulltext.pdf.

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