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Empty home tax rebate axe plan pondered for West Norfolk

The system of short-term council tax discounts on empty homes in West Norfolk could be scrapped under proposals to be considered today.

Council officials say the change could generate more than £100,000 a year in additional tax revenues.

GV ofthe Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn. (2744084)
GV ofthe Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn. (2744084)

And owners of properties left empty for more than two years could face even bigger bills following a change in legislation.

Under present West Norfolk Council rules, no council tax is charged for the first month that a property is left either empty or unfurnished. The discount was reduced to its current level from three months in April last year.

But a report to the authority’s cabinet, which will consider the proposal at a meeting this evening, said that had made the system harder to enforce and the new proposal would release staff to concentrate on other areas.

It said: “The change increased the taxbase, but has also increased the resources needed to administer the one month discount.

“More and more disputes are happening between landlords and tenants over when a property became unfurnished, therefore who is entitled to the discount, and complaints have been received from letting agents and landlords alike.

“There is also a rise in the number of formal appeals being made.”

Officials say scrapping the discount would raise around £110,000 in additional tax revenue, though less than £8,000 would be retained by the borough itself. At present, three of the other six Norfolk district councils offer such a discount, while the others offer no such rebate.

The report also proposes changes to the rules on charges for long-term empty properties, which could see the owners of buildings which haven’t been occupied for more than ten years paying four times as much council tax by 2021.

The extra charges, which include doubling the bill after two years, are allowed under new laws which are due to come into force next April.

Other proposals would also see the authority follow the lead set by Norfolk County Council last month in introducing a tax discount for care leavers.

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