MP warns of 'stealth tax'

WESTON MP John Penrose is warning homeowners in Weston that the Government could be gathering information to impose regular council tax rebanding. A number of residents have been sent detailed questionnaires by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) about home

WESTON MP John Penrose is warning homeowners in Weston that the Government could be gathering information to impose regular council tax rebanding.A number of residents have been sent detailed questionnaires by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) about home improvements and property extensions so their council tax band can be adjusted if necessary.At the moment council tax bands can only be changed when a house is sold. The VOA receives information about the property's floor plans from estate agents and any changes are imposed on the new owners.However, Mr Penrose said that when a rebanding took place in Wales recently it created a 'stealth tax' where more houses had their bands raised than lowered, and the overall council tax bill went up.He said: "After the concerns raised by local people last week, I've discovered there's no legal obligation to fill in this questionnaire at all."This just underlines people's concerns that the Government is developing a big brother database on every home, and that these questionnaires are paving the way for annual council tax revaluation - to tap into tax changes in house prices and the DIY boom."Not only is this a sign of more stealth taxes to come, but it is an unwelcome assault on the civil liberties and privacy of local people."Peter and Margaret Maggs, of Knightcott Park in Banwell, were sent a questionnaire by the VOA. The couple had an extra dining room built onto the side of their bungalow six years ago and are now worried their council tax could go up.Peter, retired, said: "The letter with the questionnaire said it was mandatory so I sent it back. "If they revalued the property as soon as it was done, fair enough. But it looks as though this is a way for them to impose a stealth tax so they can take even more money from us.


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