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Babergh District Council to consider new financial penalties for tax fraud

Fines aimed at deterring council tax fraud could be introduced in Babergh, if proposals being discussed next week are approved.

Babergh District Council’s cabinet is set to discuss the possible implementation of a new penalties policy at its next meeting on Thursday.

The change would enable the authority to issue an initial penalty of £70 to anybody who refuses to provide legally required information, or who fails to inform them about changes in their circumstances that could determine their entitlement to a discount, exemption or council tax reduction.

Endeavour House, Ipswich (25758769)
Endeavour House, Ipswich (25758769)

If given the green light, the policy would take effect in April, potentially bringing in as much as £18,000 in fines each year.

A spokeswoman for the council stressed that the measure, if introduced, is intended as a deterrent against tax fraud and error, rather than a source of income.

John Ward, cabinet member for finance and leader of Babergh District Council, said: “We are committed to taking a proactive approach in preventing and reducing council tax fraud, as well as working closely with our enforcement agents and Citizens Advice, so that we can improve collection processes.

“Through early intervention to help residents struggling with council tax payments, we can help prevent further charges, alleviate stress and reduce collection costs.”

Residents can check their details and inform the council of any changes to circumstances by creating an online account at www.babergh.gov.uk/council-tax/access-my-account.

The cabinet meeting will also consider adopting a new protocol produced by Citizens Advice and the Local Government Association for the collection of council tax arrears.

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