Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law

Mrs. S Metcalfe made this Freedom of Information request to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council,

Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law

Please provide under the FOIA the law, custom or policy that states tha a council "Customer " must inform the council ahead of time that they will will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old Bankrutpcy level of £750 or the new level of £5000 in advance of the payment ?

Please also provide the precise section of the law, custom or policy that states unless a customer informs the council inadvance, ( even though they have been given no advance knowledge of this requirement by the council ) the council will take it upon themselves to keep any money the customer pays and will apply it to an earlier council tax liability order already secured on their home by a county court charging order .

Please provide your definition of "Customer" and what they can expect to receive in the way of transparent services .

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

foi, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Thank you for your e-mail, requesting that certain information is made
available to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000/Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.  The Council has now started to process your
request.

 

The Council always aims to disclose information as quickly as possible. 
However, if for some reason we cannot complete your request within 20
working days (ie by 30th June 2016) we will write to you again before that
date to explain why and to let you know when you will receive the
information.  Please remember that documents sent by post may take few
extra days to reach you.

 

The Council will normally disclose all the information which you have
requested unless there is a good reason for not doing so.  If any
information will not be disclosed because it is exempt, we will write to
you and explain why.  Please note that, whilst the Council will disclose
documents which already exist and which contain the information which you
have requested, the Council is not required to compile documents
specifically to deal with your request.

 

Once the information has been identified, the Council can also ask that
you pay a fee to cover the costs of any printing, photocopying, postage,
etc., for processing and delivering the information to you.  If the cost
of collating the information you have requested costs the Council more
than £450 you will also have to pay this charge.  Details of any fee to be
paid will be notified to you as soon as possible.

 

Please quote the reference number 16/319 in any future correspondence
about this request.

 

If you are dissatisfied with this response, you are entitled to use the
Council’s Complaints Procedure, full details of which are available on the
Council’s website.  If you are not content with the outcome of your
complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO)
for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have
exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Borough Council. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

 

 

Adrian Stanfield

Freedom of Information Co-Ordinator

 

website: www.tmbc.gov.uk

>>> "Mrs. S Metcalfe" <[FOI #337489 email]>
31/05/2016 17:03 >>>
Dear Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council,

Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the
moral law

Please provide under the FOIA the law, custom or policy that states tha a
council "Customer " must inform the council ahead of time that they will
will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old
Bankrutpcy level of £750 or the new level of £5000 in advance of the
payment ?

Please also provide the precise section of the law, custom or policy that
states unless a customer informs the council inadvance, ( even though they
have been given no advance knowledge of this requirement by the council )
the council will take it upon themselves to keep any money the customer
pays and will apply it to an earlier council tax liability order already
secured on their home by a county court charging order .

Please provide your definition of "Customer" and what they can expect to
receive in the way of transparent services .

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

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show quoted sections

Glen Pritchard, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

Thank you for your request for information, our response is as follows:

Please provide under the FOIA the law, custom or policy that states tha a
council "Customer " must inform the council ahead of time that they will
will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old
Bankrutpcy level of £750 or the new level of £5000 in advance of the
payment ?

 

We are not aware of any law, custom or policy

 

Please also provide the precise section of the law, custom or policy that
states unless a customer informs the council inadvance, ( even though they
have been given no advance knowledge of this requirement by the council )
the council will take it upon themselves to keep any money the customer
pays and will apply it to an earlier council tax liability order already
secured on their home by a county court charging order

Our Council Tax system is set up to allocate payments to the oldest debt
if a payment is made which does not match another payment that is due

Please provide your definition of "Customer" and what they can expect to
receive in the way of transparent services .

 

We do not hold a definition of customer.

 

We do not have a transparency policy therefore we do not hold this
information. We are, however, required to follow the Local Government
Transparency Code 2015 which was set by the Department for Communities and
Local Government, a copy of which can be found here:
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...

 

As this is set by central government there is no need for our own local
policy

If you are dissatisfied with this response, you are entitled to use the
Council’s Complaints Procedure, full details of which are available on the
Council’s website. If you are not content with the outcome of your
complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO)
for a decision.

Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the
complaints procedure provided by the Borough Council. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

 

Glen Pritchard IRRV (Hons)

Principal Revenue Officer
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council

Have you tried contacting us at [2]www.tmbc.gov.uk/do-it-online ?

 

[3]IMAGE

 

 

 

>>> "Mrs. S Metcalfe" <[4][FOI #337489 email]>
31/05/2016 17:03 >>>
Dear Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council,

Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the
moral law

Please provide under the FOIA the law, custom or policy that states tha a
council "Customer " must inform the council ahead of time that they will
will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old
Bankrutpcy level of £750 or the new level of £5000 in advance of the
payment ?

Please also provide the precise section of the law, custom or policy that
states unless a customer informs the council inadvance, ( even though they
have been given no advance knowledge of this requirement by the council )
the council will take it upon themselves to keep any money the customer
pays and will apply it to an earlier council tax liability order already
secured on their home by a county court charging order .

Please provide your definition of "Customer" and what they can expect to
receive in the way of transparent services .

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[5][FOI #337489 email]

Is [6][Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council? If so, please contact
us using this form:
[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Glen Pritchard,

Thank you for confirming that you know of no law, custom or policy that states that anyone needs to inform the council in advance that they will be paying a sum to reduce the council tax bill to below the old bankruptcy level or new level in advance of them making a payment.

Do you mean you allocate payment to the oldest non-secured debt ?

Or are you saying that you will take it upon yourselves to keep the money and apply to an earlier council tax liability order already secured on a home by a charging order without your customers consent ?

How do you define who you provide services for if not as a Customer ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Glen Pritchard, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe

If a payment doesn't match any payment due, then it is offset against the oldest debt outstanding

We do not have a definition of customer.

regards

Glen Pritchard IRRV (Hons)

Principal Revenue Officer
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council
Have you tried contacting us at www.tmbc.gov.uk/do-it-online ?

show quoted sections

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Glen Pritchard,

There is no law that states you can allocate money to a debt that has been secured without consent.

Customers are not required by law to make payments that match the Council Tax software system nor are they required to write in to you in advance of a payment nor are they expected to understand how your IT system is set up.

The Customers presumption is always to the current unsecured debt or they would have told you otherwise .

Do you allocate the payment to the current/oldest Unsecured debt ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Glen Pritchard,

Do the Council allocate their customers money to the current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption. Can you please answer this point.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax - An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law'.

Do the Council allocate their customers money to the current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption. Can you please answer this point.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I refer to your email of 18th August 2016.
Please can you confirm whether the only request for information
that remains outstanding as far as you are concerned is the one set out
below, namely:-
"Do the Council allocate their customers money to the current/oldest
Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption. Can you please
answer this point."
Or are you requesting an internal review of the council's response to your
other requests?
If it is the latter, please could you identify which replies you consider
unsatisfactory and why.
I look forward to receiving your clarification in due course.
Yours

 
 
Simon Jones x 6038
Litigation Lawyer
Legal Services
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
 
 
>>> "Mrs. S Metcalfe" <[FOI #337489 email]>
18/08/2016 16:56 >>>
Dear Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Tonbridge and Malling
Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Council Tax - An unjust law
is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law'.

Do the Council allocate their customers money to the current/oldest
Unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption. Can you please
answer this point.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #337489 email]

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Dear Simon Jones,

The internal review placed on 18 August 2016 hopefully makes it quite clear that I am asking for clarification on if you are allocating your customers money to the current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be your customers presumption unless they informed you differently afterwards.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I refer to your email of 18th August 2016 where you request an internal review of the handling of your FOI request reference FOI 16/319.
Your original request was received on Tuesday 31st May 2016 and acknowledged on Friday 3rd June 2016. Mr Glen Pritchard, Principal Revenue Officer, provided a substantive response to your request on Tuesday 21st June 2016 which was within 15 working days of your original request. In that response Mr Pritchard explained that Tonbridge and Malling BC's council tax system is set up in such a way that if a payment is made that does not match another payment that is due then the money is used to pay off the oldest debt that is owed by that person.
On 22nd June 2016 you sought further clarification from Mr Pritchard who responded on 24th June 2016 essentially repeating his response of 21st June 2016, namely " If a payment does not match any payment due, then it is offset against the oldest debt outstanding."
You then replied on 13th and 18th July 2016 asking "Do the Council allocate their customers money to the current/oldest unsecured debt as would be their customers presumption?..." The council then received a request from you on 18th August 2016 for an internal review of the way in which your FOI request had been handled. You confirmed on 29th August 2016 that you were "...asking for clarification on if you are allocating your customers money to the current/oldest unsecured debt as would be your customers presumption unless they informed you differently afterwards."

Having considered all of the emails that were exchanged between Mr Pritchard and yourself it is my view that his replies provided an accurate and suitably detailed response to your various requests for information. Although his replies did not refer specifically to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it seems clear to me, due to the way in which the replies were written, that Mr Pritchard confirmed that the Council either did or did not hold the information requested under s.1(1)(a) of the Act. Further it is clear that Mr Pritchard responded to your requests within the statutory deadlines set out in s.10 of the Act.
Your final request for clarification is based on a presumption that you are making on behalf of the council tax payers of Tonbridge and Malling which I am not satisfied you are entitled to make. Mr Pritchard has answered your question and there is nothing further add. If you are a resident of the borough and a council tax payer with concerns about the way in which your council tax payments have been dealt with then I would recommend that you take up your concerns individually with Mr Pritchard.

If you are not content with the outcome of your request for an internal review then you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Borough Council.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

show quoted sections

Dear Simon Jones,

It is not for you to decide whether or not you are satisfied if I am entitled to ask for clarification as to whether you are allocating your customers money to the current/oldest unsecured debt and you have not stated what the criteria is for your customers informing you afterwards as to their intention.

You have failed to provide any clarification as requested.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Simon Jones,

Please confirm if Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council allocates their customers money to the current/oldest Unsecured debt as would be the presumption and what is your criteria for letting the council know what the payment is for , if a letter is sent shortly afterwards would this suffice as is the case with other council's when payments are made on-line or by automated payments.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I hereby acknowledge receipt of your email.
Please can you clarify if your question refers solely to council tax debts or if it refers to other debts. Also please could you clarify if you are just asking about payments on-line and how long is "shortly" when you refer to a letter and would letter include an email?
Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

show quoted sections

Dear Simon Jones,

The question relates to council tax, other councils have confirmed that a letter sent afterwards stating what year the payment is to be used for is adequate.

Payments made on-line or by automated telephone system or any other way if there is no way of stating what year the payment is to be used for at the time of making the payment.

It is for Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to define what you would class as "shortly afterwards " as this may or may not be the same as your customers definition, which is always preferable because it is their money and not yours, obviously an email sent afterwards would also be classed as a written notice of your customers intentions.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Dear Simon Jones,

When can I expect an answer from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I hope to be able to reply to your further query by the end of this week.
Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I refer to your email of Saturday 22nd October 2016 and my email of 31st October 2016.

The position is as follows:-

1. If you make an online payment in respect of your council tax then that payment will automatically be allocated to the oldest liability on your account if it does not quote a specific reference number or instalment payment;

2. If you want your payment to be used to pay off a specific liability then you have to say so.

3. There are no hard and fast rules about how soon after the online payment the request should be made but I would recommend that you make the request contemporaneously and in writing. You should also quote any relevant reference numbers.

4. Your written request can be by email or letter.

I trust the above clarifies the position for you.

Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Dear Simon Jones,

Can you confirm are you saying that Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council does accept a letter sent after payment has been made confirming what your customers payment is to be used for when payment is made on-line or by automated telephone ?

Are you also saying that if payment is made on-line rather than by automated telephone payment that your system gives the option of paying towards a specific year and that there is a different number that must also be entered along side the account number ?

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Glen
As mentioned. Please can you help me with this.
Thanks

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I refer to your email of 8th November 2016 where you have asked two questions.
In relation to your first question - TMBC would accept such a letter provided it was sent at the same time as the payment or as soon as possible thereafter (we are not talking weeks or months).
In relation to your second question - I am not saying that the system gives the option of paying towards a specific year and that there is a different number that must also be entered alongside the account number. The online payment system does not have the ability to allocate payments to specific debts so the council taxpayer would have to notify TMBC - council tax separately at the time the payment was made.
Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Dear Simon Jones,

Thank you for confirming the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council do accept a letter sent after payment is made by automated telephone payment or otherwise , can you please define what you mean by "we are not talking about weeks or months now" do you mean two weeks etc ?

Especially, as you are saying that your system does not give an option of paying towards a specific year .

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
As I said in my email reply I mean that you should send your email or letter so that it arrives at the same time as your payment or as soon thereafter as possible. I would also recommend that you phone in to explain that you have just made a payment, that the payment is in respect of a certain liability and that an email or letter is on its way to confirm this.
I definitely do not mean two weeks. I mean on the same day.
Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Dear Simon Jones,

Thank you for your explanation and expectation of your customers, does it state anywhere on your system what your requirements are, as In an ideal world people should be made and kept fully informed of the council payment system and procedures prior to paying any funds.

Unfortunately this is not the case with some councils' , so can please you be more precise in your expectation of timescales as not everyone will know to send a letter the same day and neither would they know they are required to send it in advance.

Two weeks does not seem unreasonable as long as your customers are made aware of this limit.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. S Metcalfe

Simon Jones, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Dear Mrs Metcalfe
I refer to your email of 14th November 2016 below.
There is nothing on the website regarding this. With regards to council tax payments, this authority acts in compliance with the legislation that governs it. However, the legislation does not dictate how payments should be allocated. As explained previously, the allocation of payments is common practice and there is no written policy.
If you or any other council tax payer anticipates that they might have difficulties in paying their council tax then I would advise them to get in touch with their local authority so they can be advised on the best course of action in the individual circumstances of their case.
I believe I have explained our time limits clearly in my previous emails.
It is my view that I have dealt fully with your request for information. If you are not satisfied with the way in which your request for information has been dealt with then you are entitled to request an internal review by using the Council’s Complaints Procedure details of which are to be found on the Council’s website (www.tmbc.gov.uk).
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Borough Council.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Yours

Simon Jones
Litigation Lawyer
Department of Central Services
X6038

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Neil Gilliatt (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's 21 November 2016:

"There is nothing on the website regarding this. With regards to council tax payments, this authority acts in compliance with the legislation that governs it. However, the legislation does not dictate how payments should be allocated. As explained previously, the allocation of payments is common practice and there is no written policy."

The Council's common practice regarding the allocation of payments does not obey the general rules of appropriation which have been developed in case law.

The generally principle is that the debtor has the right to decide over payment allocation and the choice may be express or implied (Stepney Corporation v Osowsky (1937)). Clearly the computer system relies on implied payments (an amount paid matching an instalment). If an amount paid does not match any instalment including the oldest debt then it can not be implied that it matches the oldest debt.

Therefore, if a payment is made that does not match any instalment in any year, then by the laws of appropriation it has to be implied that it is intended for the current year's debt (R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953)), because it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate monies to a sum in arrears if it is likely to also put the current year's liability in arrears.

"R v Miskin Lower Justices (1953) held that where an amount so obviously relates to a specific liability, it would be an unwarranted assumption to allocate the payment elsewhere."

https://www.scribd.com/document/33053407...