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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . .

Page.. 1864..

Act 1999. It is fundamentally important for a taxation system to be easy to understand and administratively efficient, and this bill supports the continuous improvement in taxation legislation, making it easier to understand and more equitable.

The bill will amend the Rates Act to address issues with unimproved land valuation dates, which have caused confusion with ratepayers. Valuations play a vital role in determining general rates, which are based on a parcel's unimproved value. Currently there is a definition for the relevant date for a valuation to take place. This definition is ambiguous, but administratively the relevant date is always 1 January, before the beginning of the financial year. The bill simplifies the provisions to align directly with the administrative practice and clearly provides 1 January as the date of valuation.

Another amendment to the Rates Act will address concerns with rating categories for leases that allow both residential and commercial development. Amendments will ensure that the classification of a property for rating purposes reflects its actual use rather than the potential or eligible use of the land.

The current provisions rely on the intended development. Not only is intention difficult to administer; it allows for the application of residential rates to be applied where a property is being used as a commercial space. This is unfair to other commercial ratepayers and creates uncertainty in the market as to when commercial general rates apply and when residential general rates apply. The provisions in this bill better reflect that rates will be determined on the actual use of the land. This supports equity amongst ratepayers and delivers further clarity in the legislation.

The Taxation Administration Act will be amended to allow the Commissioner for ACT Revenue to appoint authorised valuers with dedicated powers of entry and inspection. This does not provide valuers with broad investigative powers, but it does allow them to access properties for the purposes of undertaking valuations. This is in line with the functions of government valuers in other jurisdictions.

Finally, the bill will remove obsolete references in the Duties Act, including declared affordable house and land packages and approved stock exchanges for the act. These provisions have been redundant for some time, and removing them will improve the quality of the Duties Act.

The bill represents continuous improvement in the ACT's taxation legislation. Its main purpose is to simplify and clarify tax legislation and deliver further efficiency in the ACT Revenue Office's processes.

Improvements to tax legislation reduce red tape for taxpayers, stakeholders and administrators by ensuring that tax law operates efficiently and effectively whilst protecting government revenue. Better, faster and smarter services are coming as part of the revenue collection transformation program, and this bill complements that work. I commend it to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.

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