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Jan 06 2007

Secret council tax revaluation plans to tax homes in Harrow – Exposed

Tax handbook blows away Government spin doctor denials

Secret Government plans for tax hikes on family homes – including how they look – have been exposed after Conservatives forced Gordon Brown’s council tax inspectors to publish their explosive tax revaluation handbook. This new evidence blows away denials from Government spin doctors that there is no ‘stealth’ council tax revaluation underway.

  • Taxed for the look of your home: The 80 page manual – by Gordon Brown’s Valuation Office Agency – is illustrated with photographs of every type of home, including architectural styles; brick, thatch or stone fascias; sash windows; age periods and house dimensions. The tax men are instructed to grade individual homes with particular computer codes. These codes are then entered into an American ‘Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal’ database which will calculate how much extra tax that home should pay based on its features.
  • Taxed for your cul-de-sac, patio or parking space: On top of this, ‘Value Significant’ property features that must be coded by the tax inspectors to calculate council tax bills include: living in a quiet road or cul-de-sac; near to convenient public transport; garden; patio; roof terrace; balcony; sea or hill views; near a field or golf course; conservatory; double glazing; and number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garage spaces and parking spaces.
  • Stealth revaluation now underway: Despite the Government claims on the “postponement” of the council tax revaluation in England, Labour Ministers have given explicit authorisation for the council tax revaluation database to go ahead after the announcement of the postponement. Taxpayers’ money is being spent on refining the next-generation technology which has been bought in from secretive American contractors. Gordon Brown has valued the computer software alone at £6 million. The ‘Big Brother’ database also allows for the imposition of a house price tax, now being piloted in Northern Ireland from April.

Councillor Bob Blackman said:

“Claims by Whitehall spin doctors that the council tax revaluation in England was postponed have been exposed as a complete sham. Labour Ministers have given their express authority for every home in Harrow to be sized up, and every home improvement or sign of a nice neighbourhood, to be photographed, catalogued and taxed by Gordon Brown’s inspectors.

“I fear council tax bills will rise purely for living in a quiet road, being near to a bus stop, or having a parking space. People who rent will be taxed just as much as those who own their home.

“Labour Ministers and Gordon Brown believe they have the right to intrude on people’s privacy to tax your home and punish those who live in nice neighbourhoods. But Conservatives will scrap these revaluation plans and abolish the tax inspectors’ rights of entry. We will stand up for people’s property and privacy.”

Notes to Editors

SECRET COUNCIL TAX REVALUATION HANDBOOK

Over the last year, the Government has repeatedly tried to block the publication of the handbook that council tax inspectors are planning to use for the council tax revaluation. The document entitled ‘Dwellinghouse Coding: An Illustrated Guide” was produced by the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of Gordon Brown’s Inland Revenue. When asked via Parliamentary Questions, Ministers refused to release the document on supposed ‘privacy’ grounds, but this has been obtained now by Conservatives under the Freedom of Information Act.

EXAMPLE OF THE HANDBOOK CODES – SIZING UP HOMES TO BE TAXED

Value Significant Features

Code

Agricultural Property – main farmhouse

AM

Agricultural Property – other house or cottage

AO

Agricultural Property – temporarily vacant

AV

Agricultural Property – worker’s cottage

AW

Balcony – up to 3 sq m

BA

Balcony – over 3 sq m and up to 5 sq m

BB

Balcony – over 5 sq m and up to 7 sq m

BC

Balcony – over 7 sq m

BD

Composite – boarding/guest house

CB

Composite – hotel

CH

Composite – industrial

CI

Composite – not known not including agricultural

CN

Composite – office

CO

Composite – public house

CP

Composite – shop

CS

Shared drive

DS

Functional / economic factor

EF

Facility – adjoining conservation area

FC

Facility – adjoining golf course

FG

Facility – adjoining other ‘positive’ facility / amenity

FO

Facility – adjoining park

FP

Garden – garden where not usual

GG

Garden – no garden where usual

GN

Penthouse

HO

Leisure facility – equestrian, paddock only

LE

Leisure facility – equestrian, including stables

LF

Leisure facility – swimming pool, outdoor

LR

Leisure facility – swimming pool, indoor

LS

Leisure facility – tennis court

LT

Quality – atypical for Group or Type

NA

Patio – where value significant

OS

Plot size – large for Group or Type in locality

PL

Plot size – small for Group or Type in locality

PS

Roof Terrace – up to 3 sq m

QA

Roof Terrace – over 3 sq m and up to 8 sq m

QB

Roof Terrace – over 8 sq m and up to 15 sq m

QC

Roof Terrace – over 15 sq m

QD

Restrictive covenants and other (non-agricultural) tied dwellings

RC

Condition at sale

SC

Traffic – main / busy road

TM

Traffic – quiet road or cul-de-sac

TQ