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Local Government Finance Act 2012

Council Tax

Section 14: Regulations about powers to require information, offences and penalties

47.This section inserts new sections 14A to 14D into the LGFA 1992. New section 14A allows the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations providing powers for persons to require the provision of information and to require that a person must enter into arrangements under which access is permitted to their electronic records. These powers can only be used for prescribed purposes relating to a person’s liability to pay council tax (new section 14A(1) and 14A(7)).

48.Provision may also be made in regulations about arrangements for access to a person’s electronic records for purposes relating to a person’s liability to pay council tax when arrangements are entered into otherwise than under a requirement mentioned in section 14A(1)(b) (new section 14A(2)).

49.Regulations may include provision about the persons by whom these powers may be exercised and who may enter into these arrangements and may, in particular, provide billing authorities with the power to authorise persons to exercise these powers or make these arrangements (new section 14A(3)).

50.Regulations made under this new section may, in particular, include provision equivalent to the provisions of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 listed in section 14A(5) (new section 14A(4)).

51.The Government intends that these powers will be used to ensure local authorities are able to access information to determine whether a claim for a reduction in council tax liability is fraudulent.

52.New section 14B enables the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers to make regulations providing for the creation of offences that may be committed by a person in prescribed circumstances. This includes where a person intentionally delays or obstructs a person when exercising a power under section 14A(1) or refuses or fails to supply information when required to do so. Offences may also be created where, for instance, a person makes a false statement or representation in connection with their liability to pay council tax (new section 14B(1)).

53.The intention is to create criminal offences equivalent to those that apply in relation to council tax benefit under the Social Security Administration Act 1992. New section 14B(9) therefore provides that the regulations may make provision equivalent to those listed in new section 14B(10) with modifications.

54.New section 14C enables provision to be made in regulations giving billing authorities powers to issue a penalty to a person where their act or omission results or could result in the amount of council tax a person is liable to pay being reduced and where no such discount or reduction should be given (new section 14C(1)). Regulations may similarly provide that a penalty may be issued where a person’s act or omission results in a dwelling being treated as exempt when no such exemption should be given (new section 14C(2)). The regulations can only provide that a penalty may be imposed as an alternative to criminal proceedings being taken against a person in respect of the act or omission to which the penalty relates or where a person has not yet been charged with an offence in respect of that act or omission (new section 14C(3)). The Treasury may make an order varying the amount of a penalty provided for in the regulations (new section 14C(4) and (5)). The intention is that this will allow for increases in inflation. Any new penalties created in regulations will not affect the operation of the existing penalties that may be imposed under paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 to the LGFA 1992 (new section 14C(6)).

55.Regulations made under this section may, in particular, make provision equivalent to the provisions of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 listed in new section 14C(8). The intention is to enable authorities to impose penalties in circumstances similar to those in which a penalty may be imposed in relation to council tax benefit under these provisions.

56.Section 14D sets out the procedure for making regulations under section 14A to 14C.

57.Section 13(5) to (9) provides individuals with a route of appeal to a Valuation Tribunal in England or Wales against the imposition of a penalty under regulations under section 14C.

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