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to feel insulted by this letter from the council and to go and "speak" to them about it?

(190 Posts)
mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 07:56:03

OK Ladies, my first AIBU, but I have been stewing about this and want your wisdom please before I make an idiot of myself.
Background... I live in the UK with DS but DH lives and works abroad and has done for years. He is non resident for tax purposes and comes here every few weeks for a day or two. I am the sole owner of my home. Therefore I claim council tax allowance for a single person. I recently moved house and notified the council. On Sat I received a letter from them querying why if I am living singly am I paying council tax from a joint account. (never been queried at the old house). Then what got me going was the following questions:

1) What is your relationship to the joint bank account holder?
2) If this is a spouse are you still in a relationship and if not why do you continue to use a joint bank account?
3)Where does the joint bank account holder live?

Now I know that benefit fraud is common and that as a tax payer I should be grateful that the council are trying to stop people cheating the system, but I just found the whole tone insulting - especially ? 2. None of their business. It also asks me to reply straight away. If I wanted to cheat I could easily have paid from my personal account and no problems.

So AIBU. Should I just meekly send a reply answering all their questions or do I politely let them know that their letter could be "improved"...


microserf Mon 01-Apr-13 08:31:26

Sounds perfectly reasonable questions to me, so Yabu.

MrsBW Mon 01-Apr-13 08:48:02

'Main residence' is an interesting concept for councils.... As I say, my husband spent at least 325 days out of 365 abroad.

The council considered our home in the UK his 'main residence' (because it was his main residence when he was in the UK I suppose) and we were therefore not considered eligible for discount.

mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 08:48:43

Ok thanks ladies, clearly me being over sensitive. No question of me trying to avoid paying anything I owe.

DH does not "live away for tax purposes". His job is abroad - not the same thing. His residence is abroad. By saying "non resident for tax purposes" I may have been confusing, it's just the technical phrase for HMRC which means you qualify as non resident. He is not dodging any taxes. I am not claiming a benefit I am claiming an allowance - small but important difference.

He does have his own home abroad and pays all relevant taxes there as I do here and therefore am contributing to the services I use.

If the council thinks I'm not entitled I'll discuss it with them. I'll give them a ring tomorrow and see what the say.

MrsBW Mon 01-Apr-13 08:55:16

I should have added... I would have been a little hmm at the tone of the letter so I don't think YAB entirely U... But I would understand why they had written in that way.

Euphemia Mon 01-Apr-13 08:56:32

Be up front with the council and explain your situation. If you're entitled to the single occupancy rate, there should be no problem.

mateysmum Mon 01-Apr-13 08:57:00

Just checked on the council website it says:

"We will still count someone as living in your home if they are temporarily absent because they are:

on holiday
working abroad
a member of the armed forces"

The key word here is "temporary". DH has worked abroad for 10 years and has never lived in this or my previous property. However, I need to have clarity with the council, so I'll call them.

MrsBW Mon 01-Apr-13 09:01:31

Sounds like you'll be fine.

I was mightily angry at having to pay for DH when he was away. He didn't use any of their services and if he'd been in prison we'd have got a discount... Just didn't because he was living and working away with the Forces.

As you can tell, I'm over it now! grin.

I love the bunny smileys!

ZillionChocolate Mon 01-Apr-13 09:02:11

Letter is absolutely fine.

OP why not redraft the letter, post it, and let the MN jury vote on whether it's an improvement.

ZillionChocolate Mon 01-Apr-13 09:02:32

I mean post it here, rather than send it to the council.

QuickLookBusy Mon 01-Apr-13 09:04:00

I don't undstand why you feel "insulted"

The council are just doing their job. Asking why you still have a joint account is a perfectly valid question.

delboysfileofax Mon 01-Apr-13 09:09:29

"I am not claiming a benefit, I'm claiming an allowance. A small but important difference."

And there we have it ladies and gentlemen. When people are working class they're benefit scroungers, when middle class it's just an allowance

DolomitesDonkey Mon 01-Apr-13 09:13:48

Yabu - you are claiming fraudulently right?

DolomitesDonkey Mon 01-Apr-13 09:18:01

Sorry, that was harsh. Perhaps you are not fraudulently claiming - it's just your mannerisms and avoidance which might make people think you're being fraudulent. The previous poster was bang on when she initimated that because you're naice it doesn't count.

Yabu and a bit bonkers to get your knickers in a twist because someone at the council thinks you're taking the piss.

FarBetterNow Mon 01-Apr-13 09:18:14


delboysfileofax I'm with you.

I wonder if people working on long tours have thought of this scam.
They spend most of their lives on a tour bus or in hotel room.

You might be correct to the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

MummytoKatie Mon 01-Apr-13 09:21:42

We got a similar letter when we were living apart but still had a joint account. It didn't bother me and I had already phoned them to explain the circumstances and they had told me we got the discount.

In our case we were each paying single council tax at different residences. I might have had to send Hertfordshire a copy of the Yorkshire bill or vice versa but it quickly went away when it became obvious that I had no intention of living in Herts again (as we were trying to move to Yorkshire) and that dh had never lived in Yorkshire (as his job was still in Hertfordshire and the flat, utilities etc were all in my sole name and he had only spent about 6 nights in the Yorkshire flat in 6 months as I did the travelling.)

DowntonTrout Mon 01-Apr-13 09:23:02

I dont know that the OP is claiming fraudulently though.

I have a situation where I am living separately to my DH, except in the UK. We are still together though.

We pay full council tax on our "main" residence, where DH lives. I pay single person council tax on my flat in London, as I live there with DD. DH comes to stay once a month and we go home at other times.

Sometimes when you have an unusual situation, you don't fit into the boxes that they expect you to. Single person allowance doesn't mean you are single, it means you are the sole adult living in the property AFAIK. At least that is what I was told by the council.

Chocovore Mon 01-Apr-13 09:23:33

You're not 'single' though are you? You do have a husband, who has an income, and presumably helps support your family. If he wants his children sent to school here, I think he should pay his share of the tax.

captainbarnacle Mon 01-Apr-13 09:26:04

Really? My OH has been doing the same for years - only back here for a few days every couple of months. I still pay my full rate of council tax. I'm not single! He lives here, his stuff is here. YABU.

nosleeps Mon 01-Apr-13 09:27:14

Tax avoidance. Probably all within the law, I'm sure you know exactly what you're doing, so no sympathy. YABU and I don't like your superior tone.

captainbarnacle Mon 01-Apr-13 09:30:40

I feel a bit stupid now. Should I have been claiming single allowance all this time? We're not even married, no joint account, house is owned by me.

HollyBerryBush Mon 01-Apr-13 09:30:48

But the Ops husband lives abroad, has his own property abroad - I fail to see how he is resident in this country if he actually LIVES abroad (that wasn't clear in the first post).

In reality it's not different to any other relative popping down every couple of weeks to stay the weekend.

MrsBW Mon 01-Apr-13 09:31:50

Yes Holly And HMRC deem him not to live in the UK...

MummytoKatie Mon 01-Apr-13 09:34:37

Downton - when I was in a similar position we got single occupancy on both residences so it maybe worth checking. (Although I had no intention of moving back to the old house so that may be the difference.)

Just thinking you call your main residence 'home" whereas I called it "that bloody house we can't get rid of" so maybe that is the difference!

ParadiseChick Mon 01-Apr-13 09:35:58

How do you "speak" to someone?

MummytoKatie Mon 01-Apr-13 09:37:53

Captain - maybe. Phone them up, truthfully explain the exact situation and see what they say.

Ooh and make a note of the date and time of the phone call and who you speak to just in case it is ever queried!

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