BACKGROUND

  • Our Accurates forensic audit specialists were initially called in to carry out a range of bespoke specialist ‘anomaly’ searches and scans within our databases and software systems on the company’s portfolio.
  • Although our systems had previously highlighted a serious anomaly in the methodology for creating the original historical charging path, the fact that we had already successfully recovered an overpayment of £1.9million, did not guarantee in any way that we would achieve a further historical rebate.

APPROACH

  • The particular technical compliance issue that we were required to resolve was is in respect of the regulations regarding liability ‘Collection and Enforcement’ for local lists and the interplay with the ‘Payment of Interest’ Regulations.
  • The billing authority initially made a determination that the original overpayment should not attract any payment of interest. However, our interpretation of the regulations differed. Indeed it was our opinion that the overpayment for four consecutive retrospective financial years should be subject to interest.

NEGOTIATION

  • This technical argument related to business rate charges going back 15 years and so faced internal checks and legal scrutiny as to whether the authority could actually refund interest going back so far in time. We also presented arguments to the Council in an attempt to ensure that the interest payment should not becaught by the Limitations Act. 

RESULTS

  • After initial strong ‘knock back’ by Revenues Officers, the billing authority finally accepted our interpretation in full, following a total of 18 months of research, negotiations and representations. £1 million in interest on the original overpayment was refunded to the company.

ACCURATES - KEY WORKING METHODS:

  • Desktop forensic analyses of computed liabilities within our Midlands compliance audit centre to avoid disruption to clients’ operational activities;
  • Identification of potential for reduced business rate charges viathe examination of ‘virtual’ demandnotices produced using our rateliability calculator programmes;
  • Selection of most appropriate and effective methods for securing the maximum rebate for clients, both retrospectively and going forward;
  • Preparation, submission and monitoring of detailed compliance and audit claims to billing authorities by Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation qualified former local authority revenues officers;
  • Negotiation of claims with billing authorities, including any responses to Revenues Officers’ queries;
  • Ensuring local interpretations, judgements, determinations and systems meet legal and administrative requirements.