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People baffled by council tax spin on a sticky wicket

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The Government is publishing a new document aiming to correct what it says are untrue or misleading stories about their council tax, which is a significant drain on many people’s saving and investment plans.

Phil Woolas, the local government minister, has contradicted claims that the tax rises when people improve their homes, or that there is “revaluation by stealth”.

But a senior officer in an Essex authority’s council tax office said: “There is huge misunderstanding on the issue of council tax and any rumours in the press – no matter how wide of the mark they are – seem to be taken as gospel.

“One council taxpayer called me here and demanded a rebate on her property as the gutter leaked and she thought that this entitled her to a refund. Of course, it does not mean any such thing, as the tax is based on the relative and not the absolute value of a home.”

A report into the whole issue of council tax is due on 21st March, when Sir Michael Lyons reports on measures to streamline the legislation.

Woolas refused to answer questions on what the report might contain. However, he dismissed a claim by The Times newspaper that the report will recommend extra bands as “pure speculation”.

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