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Council tax payment allocation in accordance with R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]

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Dear Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council,

The Council makes the statement quoted below from the document link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/3...

"I can confirm that when money is sent to the Council for Council Tax, these payments are allocated in the following order:

a) Where the payment received corresponds with the amount of a current year instalment, the monies will be allocated to current year.

b) Where the payment received corresponds with the amount of an agreed payment arrangement, in respect of previous year’s arrears, the amount is credited to the arrears.

c) Where the amount received does not correspond to an expected instalment for current year, or an agreed payment arrangement for previous year’s arrears, the payment will be allocated to the oldest outstanding debt. "

The council's statement above does not agree with the judgment in the case of R. v Miskin Lower Justices (see below link to the judgment):

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

The judgment clarifies the position in cases where a creditor has to make a decision as to which account payment should be allocated when a debtor has one account more burdensome for him than another and his payment is unspecified

Clearly the council's statement, if it were to agree with the judgment, would be.....

[[ Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment should be allocated then the creditor must allocate the payment to the account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. ]]

Q. Where did the council obtain the information regarding the appropriation of payments case law which conflicts with the judgment in R. v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]?

Yours faithfully,

S Staffordson

Freedom Of Information Requests, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr/Ms S Staffordson,

 

Freedom of Information Request

Unique Reference No: FOI 9308

 

Thank you for your email received 17 September 2019 requesting information
under the Freedom of Information Act.  I understand your request to be as
follows:

 

The Council makes the statement quoted below from the document link:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/3...

 

"I can confirm that when money is sent to the Council for Council Tax,
these payments are allocated in the following order:

 

a)  Where the payment received corresponds with the amount of a current
year instalment, the monies will be allocated to current year.

 

b)  Where  the  payment  received  corresponds  with  the  amount  of  an 
agreed  payment arrangement, in respect of previous year’s arrears, the
amount is credited to the arrears.

 

c)  Where  the  amount  received  does  not  correspond  to  an  expected 
instalment  for current year,  or  an  agreed  payment  arrangement for 
previous  year’s  arrears,  the  payment  will be allocated to the oldest
outstanding debt. "

 

The council's statement above does not agree with the judgment in the case
of R. v Miskin Lower Justices (see below link to the judgment):

 

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

 

The judgment clarifies the position in cases where a creditor has to make
a decision as to which account payment should be allocated when a debtor
has one account more burdensome for him than another and his payment is
unspecified

 

Clearly the council's statement, if it were to agree with the judgment,
would be.....

 

[[ Where the debtor does not make any reference as to where the payment
should be allocated then the creditor must allocate the payment to the
account which it is most beneficial to the debtor to reduce. ]]

 

Q. Where did the council obtain the information regarding the
appropriation of payments case law which conflicts with the judgment in R.
v Miskin Lower Justices [1953]?

 

Your request is being considered as a request under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.  In accordance with statutory requirements, it may
take up to 20 working days (approximately 4 weeks) for the Council to
consider your request and provide a formal response.  Should this 20
working day deadline need to be extended you will be notified and kept
informed.

 

I have passed your request to Tracey Watkin, Service Unit Manager — Assess
and Pay and Income and Collection, to respond to your request and she can
be contacted on 0161 342 2368 or at [1][email address].

 

Please be advised that there may be a charge for your request and you will
be notified if this is the case before any costs are incurred.  Should you
have any concerns about the way your response is being dealt with, please
do not hesitate to contact me in writing or by e-mail.

 

Regards

 

 

Freedom of Information Support

 

 

Email Disclaimer [2]http://www.tameside.gov.uk/disclaimer

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Dear Freedom Of Information Requests,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council should normally have responded promptly and by 15 October 2019.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom Of Information Requests, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear S Staffordson,

Apologies for the delay in response.

I am writing to confirm your Freedom of Information Request is in process and we will endeavour to send as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any queries.

Regards,

Freedom of Information Support

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Freedom Of Information Requests, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear S Staffordson,

 

Request for Information – Freedom of Information

Unique Reference FOI 9308

 

Please find attached response in relation to your Freedom of Information
Request.

 

Kind regards,

 

On behalf of Tracey Watkin

 

 

 

 

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Dear Freedom Of Information Requests,

Thank you for your reply. I note your reference to Khandanpour v Chambers in support of your reliance on Leeson v Leeson (1936).

Khandanpour v Chambers [2019] EWCA Civ 570
https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ...

This judgment persuasively argues that a local authority should be required to have its council tax processing software parameters set to automatically allocate non-specified payments to the in-year account (rather than to the oldest liability). Having payment allocated to the oldest liability, would with almost certainty trigger the Council's automated recovery procedure adding unnecessary additional costs of enforcement in respect of the in-year account which would have fallen in arrears as a consequence of the misallocated payment.

The taxpayer's obvious intention would in these circumstances to have been to appropriate payment to the in-year account and the relevant billing authority would not be in doubt as to which liability the taxpayer had intended payment to have reduced. It would therefore have been inferred from the circumstances known to both parties.

The council would know that appropriation to the oldest liability would be contrary to the taxpayer's obvious intention in making payment. The mere fact that it would be to the debtor's detriment if allocated to an earlier debt would be sufficient to infer that the payment was intended to reduce his current year’s liability.

The judgment only seems to reinforce the above points under the heading "Appropriation" (paras 25 to 31) particularly where reference is made to the various case authorities such as "Chitty on Contracts", Parker v Guinness and Leeson v Leeson.

If further reference to these authorities is needed it may be helpful to consult paragraph 53 onwards in the following representations relating to court proceedings in which the issue concerned a billing authority appropriating payments wrongly:

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?fil...

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom Of Information Requests, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Staffordson,

 

Your further comments are noted. The Council applies payments in a way
which  infers reasonable intention where none is stated. The system also
permits the taxpayer to expressly request application of a payment to a
particular debt.

 

If you need anything further, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Freedom of Information Support

 

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Dear Freedom Of Information Requests,

You will already know this but for what it's worth the council's processing system applies payments in respect of the customer's implied intention on a severely restricted basis (solely if the sum paid corresponds with an instalment amount). A payment matching a specific liability is only one of a number of ways that the taxpayer's election may be implied. For example, case authority has consistently found that a debtor's intention may be indicated from the circumstances of the transaction (see previously quoted Khandanpour v Chambers "Appropriation" from para 25).

A debtor's payment pattern could indicate a debtor's intention to appropriate payment to a particular debt, so if a pattern had emerged of a customer's payment being made and accepted as credited to a particular debt then it would be inferred from the nature of the transaction, even if not expressed at the time by the customer, that he intended to ascribe it to that account.

A customer having one liability more onerous for him than another must have his payment if it were unspecified carried to that account which it is most beneficial for him to reduce. A customer who would be caused the additional burden from recovery action being taken in respect of his in-year liability as a consequence of payment being applied to his arrears, would clearly have intended his payment to be appropriated to his in-year liability to avoid unnecessary additional costs etc. Evidence of an intent to appropriate would be provided in those particular circumstances to be an election to pay specifically on the current year's liability. A customer who made payment in an amount sufficient to prevent his in-year liability falling in arrears would have good cause to bring legal proceedings against the council if it were to allocate his payment to a previous year's charge (thus unnecessarily burdening him further) merely because it did not match the instalment amount.

In any event, I understand that a billing authority's duty, as a priority, is to maintain a customer's in-year account with payments received in respect of his liability, and the best chance of achieving that would be if the parameters in the Council Tax processing system were set so that any unspecified payments were applied to the current year's charge.

Yours sincerely,

S Staffordson

Freedom Of Information Requests, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear S Staffordson,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

I have forwarded your email to the relevant service area – receipt has
been confirmed and your comments noted.

 

Kind regards,

 

Freedom of Information Support

 

 

Email Disclaimer http://www.tameside.gov.uk/disclaimer

 

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are S Staffordson please sign in and let everyone know.