Property rates (IMI)

Dear Editor,
We have been having protracted difficulties with the Finanças regarding this tax for around three years. As we had taken out Portuguese residency we had a waiver until the end of 2011. The date is clearly set out in documentation from the Finanças.
In November / December 2011 we went into the Albufeira Finanças for two reasons: firstly, to confirm that we would be starting payments in the next financial year and, secondly, to inform them that their house details were incorrect as they did not show alterations which had been made.
After a long discussion we were told two separate things. Firstly, as expected, that the house would be re-valued and, secondly, more surprisingly, that IMI payments would be backdated some years to when the alterations were actually made.
Apparently, according to current legislation, house alterations impact on the operative date of any waiver on IMI payments. We have never been informed of this and potential increased costs may well have caused us to re-consider the changes which we made.
In early 2012, we received an IMI bill for the first half of the year. It seemed surprising but we paid it anyway. Three months later the money was returned to us. We now go into the Finanças approximately every six months to ask about the valuation which has yet to take place. It is the same pattern each time.
The initial response is that we do not show up on the computer system as owning any property in Portugal. After some 30 minutes arguing, we eventually see somebody else who says we are on a separate part of the system and that they are awaiting the re-evaluation. Nobody can tell us when this will take place – it is now overdue by 2.5 years. It would be interesting to know whether anybody else is experiencing similar problems and whether they can suggest a solution.
John Hunt