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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1640..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

of respect to that committee and my colleagues, are something of a fetish. But, having said that, we are pleased to respond, as always, to the wisdom of the committee and make some amendments accordingly.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Land Tax (Interest and Penalty) Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 5 June 2007, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (8.35): The opposition will be supporting this bill. The bill addresses a technical problem with the act which previously allowed a person liable to pay land tax to potentially avoid penalties and interest until the liability came to the attention of the revenue office. Under the act it was not considered a tax default to fail to pay land tax when it was due.

Without the passing of this bill, somebody with an investment property that was being rented on which land tax would be therefore be payable could avoid paying land tax until the revenue office identified that the property was being rented and sent a them liability notice. A person would then still not have committed a tax default until 30 days had passed from the time the revenue office had issued the liability notice.

In contrast, if a person fails to pay their rates notice within the time allotted, it is considered a tax default and penalties can apply. Staff from the revenue office assured me in briefings that they do not seek to substantially penalise people who have genuinely misunderstood their obligations but that they would seek to penalise intentional tax avoidance.

The opposition supports an efficient tax system and has no interest in standing in the way of measures designed to prevent tax evasion. Clearly, this amendment is designed to ensure that the will of the Assembly in agreeing to the original legislation is given full effect. I will reiterate what I have said previously, and that is that we do need to review the land tax system. It needs to be determined if there is, firstly, scope to reduce the rate, which is comparatively high to other jurisdictions and, secondly, assess whether such a move would, in fact, help to address the housing affordability issue.

I have not, as the Chief Minister has tried to portray in various speeches and press releases, advocated scrapping land tax in the ACT. It is important, however, that the system be reviewed to determine whether the ACT is disadvantaging itself in the market and whether any changes to the rate of land tax may stimulate growth in the sector.

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