Tax blunder costs grandad £10,000

Keith Falconer, at his home in Kirkham, will only receive back �300 of the money he has overpaid to Fylde Council.
Keith Falconer, at his home in Kirkham, will only receive back �300 of the money he has overpaid to Fylde Council.
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A pensioner has been left almost £10,000 out of pocket – after he paid Council Tax for 10 years when he didn’t need to.

Grandad Keith Falconer, 75, retired in 2003 and claims Pension Credit. But he did not realise that means he should not have paid a penny in Council Tax to Fylde Council.

Instead, he has been paying around £1,000 a year for the past decade.

Now that the Pension Credit has been brought to their attention, Fylde Council says Mr Falconer will get Council Tax Benefit and will not pay a penny more from now on.

But under the law, Fylde Council is only able to reimburse him four months worth of the overpayment, which comes to £310, meaning he will never get back the remaining £9,700.

Today the authority labelled Mr Falconer’s case a “tragedy” and urged all taxpayers to check which benefits they are entitled to.

But the furious pensioner said he was never made aware of what he was entitled to.

The father-of-two, of Wyre Avenue, Kirkham, says he still has bills to pay and recently had to re-mortgage his house as part of a separate money issue.

He said: “It’s stupid. I don’t accept what is happening.

“I’ve paid on time and never missed a payment but they would soon come after people who don’t make payments.

“I’m not going to let them brush me off because I was never aware of what I was entitled to and what I had to pay.

“They told me I would get more than three months reimbursed to me and I told them to keep it. If I accepted it would be like holding my hands up and saying that I accept the situation.”

Mr Falconer retired 10 years ago from his job as a health and safety manager in the Middle East and receives a £130-a-week pension.

However, he was told by a friend at Christmas he should not be paying Council Tax because he is entitled to pension credit. When he made an inquiry to Fylde Council, they confirmed he should not have been paying.

He added that he will continue his fight to get more money back.

“It would help a great deal if I had this money,” he said.

“I re-mortgaged my house seven years ago and I’m still paying £100 a month for that and when you take that into account, it’s nearly half of what I was paying out in Council Tax.

“My daughters have told me to go for it because they don’t think it’s right and Fylde Council is being narrow minded.”

A spokesman for Fylde Council said: “Mr Falconer highlights the tragedy of somebody who did not check his entitlement to benefits.

“It’s a tragedy for Mr Falconer that he would’ve been entitled to Council Tax benefit going back some years but he failed to make that appointment.

“We would urge all members of the public who feel they may be entitled to some financial help to check if they are.

“Mr Falconer came in to see us in March and we have taken his claim back as far as we can possibly go.

“That gives him £300 but we can’t back date it any further than that and the responsibility does lie with people to look after their own finances and take responsibility for their own incomings and outgoings.

“We are really sorry for Mr Falconer.”

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