Crackdown on Potters Bar council tax cheats

PUBLISHED: 13:24 11 July 2018

The council is cracking down on tax cheats in Potters Bar and beyond. Picture: Thinkstock

The council is cracking down on tax cheats in Potters Bar and beyond. Picture: Thinkstock

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Hertsmere Borough Council has launched a crackdown on people who fiddle their council tax bills by fraudulently claiming they live alone.

According to Hertsmere, currently around 13,000 people in the borough have the bill reduced by 25 per cent because they are the only ‘countable’ adult at the property.

But the council claims that a proportion of the applications of Single Person Discounts (SPDs) are not genuine or the council has not been notified of a change in circumstances.

Claiming a discount where there is no entitlement results in incorrect bills being issued and an underpayment of council tax.

To address this the council will undertake an in-depth review to root out those who are taking advantage of the system and underpaying their bills.

Council tax is the main source of funding for Potters Bar’s police, fire and rescue service, and all council services from the parish council right up to the county council.

Councillor John Graham, portfolio holder for finance and property, said: “The majority of people in the borough pay their council tax correctly, but there are people who claim a discount where there is no entitlement.

“We, as the local authority responsible for collecting council tax, have to take into account exemptions and discounts when we work out the council tax charge per household each year.

“Because of those people who pay less when they shouldn’t, genuine taxpayers have to pay more, which isn’t fair.”

As part of the review, data from SPD claimants will be cross-matched with information from a credit rating bureau.

If evidence is found of multiple occupancy, then the resident will receive a letter warning them that the discount will be removed and that they will have to pay back the money they owe.

Tax cheats who do not respond or who refuse to comply could face prosecution in court.

Councillor Graham added: “We understand that in some cases, false claims will have been made unintentionally and we want to work with residents who are genuinely unsure about their council tax obligations.

“Hertsmere residents expect value for money and we are committed to stamping out fraud for the good of everyone in the borough.”

For more information about the single person’s discount review, visit: www.hertsmere.gov.uk/spdreview

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