More than £6 million in overpaid council tax is owed to current or former Hounslow residents, it can be revealed.
A total of £6,430,046.25 in unclaimed, overpaid tax is sitting in 58,022 closed accounts, a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service has shown.
That means an average of £110.82 is owed to each account holder.
A council statement attached to the data says the £6.4 million owed to taxpayers is about four per cent of the £149.5 million in tax that is owed to the council annually.
The response adds that an average of 65,000 accounts are opened or closed every year, which is similar to the number of people moving in and out of the borough.
The council say all of the account holders would have received at least one message about the money they’re owed. But without a response no refund can be processed.
The figure the council owes is “unfortunate”, Hounslow’s Conservative opposition leader Councillor Gerald McGregor said.
But he added, “Stack that up against council tax worth £149.5 million owed to the council in arrears – 58,000 sounds an awful lot but given the turnover of 65,000 accounts a year that’s a huge churn of accounts.
“The council will make at least two to three attempts to correspond at their address.”
Cllr McGregor said there could be a number of reasons for the “very big” six million pound figure.
These might be council tax overpaid before a house is sold, or when an elderly resident moves to a care home.
A series of Freedom of Information Requests by Local Democracy Reporters has revealed that London’s council taxpayers could be eligible for millions.
Croydon has £5.2 million in nearly 30,000 closed accounts, an average of £176 per account.
Neighbouring Sutton owes £368,000 to 993 account holders.
Brent Council also owes 414 former taxpayers an average of £1,678.
Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, said, “Like most other local authorities we hold some balances from closed council tax accounts, but we make it as simple as possible for people to reclaim any outstanding money left on their accounts.
“There are a number of reasons for closed Council Tax accounts in credit, these include people moving home without providing a forwarding address, probate pending and small adjustments to benefits claims.
Cllr Rajawat encourages anyone who believes they are eligible to reclaim tax to visit the Hounslow Council website or write to: Hounslow Revenues Services, PO Box 355, Hounslow, TW3 4BJ.
Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter
August 10, 2021