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Council Tax E-Billing Moves Closer

3 June 2003

The Government is inviting comments on proposed legislative changes allowing local authorities in England to serve council tax and non-domestic bills and reminders electronically by the end of 2003.

The Deputy Prime Minister's Office has written to council finance directors and major software suppliers seeking feedback on draft regulations which enable electronic communications to be treated in the same way as bills issued by post.

The proposals make provision for demand notices to be served either as an email attachment or via a secure website. Controversially, they state that where a council has issued a demand electronically, it will be deemed as given, providing local authorities with 'safeguards' against the risk of failed notification. The ODPM stresses that the legislative change neither gives taxpayers or ratepayers the right to receive notices electronically, nor compels authorities to do so. "However, we encourage all billing authorities to plan to offer this service to their taxpayers as soon as practicable", its letter concludes.

The move forms part of a wider package of Government measures to modernise the council tax system, which will grant local authorities greater discretion over the financial information, currently prescibed by legislation, that is supplied with bills. Interested parties have until 20 June to comment on the proposals.

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