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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 11 April 2013) . . Page.. 1514 ..

All of the reforms contained in the government’s five-year plan have been implemented or commenced. However, this bill will give legal effect to the following measures introduced as part of the ACT taxation reform. Firstly, it will abolish all reference to commercial land tax in the Land Tax Act 2004. It will expand the eligibility criteria of the rates deferral scheme and will make changes to the calculation of general rates by removing the reference to the tax-free threshold.

This bill will formally abolish commercial land tax. This was a recommendation of the ACT taxation review, which found that this reform would simplify the tax system and reduce red tape for businesses. From 1 July 2012, no land tax has been levied on commercial properties. However, this bill will remove all reference to commercial land tax in the Land Tax Act 2004.

The ACT’s rates deferral scheme allows eligible households to defer payments on their general rates, on which a relatively low rate of simple interest is charged. As part of the reform, the rates deferral scheme will be expanded to include non-pensioners, such as self-funded retirees, who satisfy age, asset, income and equity tests. The bill is seeking to make relevant changes to the Rates Act 2004 to allow access for non-pensioners who satisfy the eligibility criteria to access the scheme.

Both the review into Australia’s future taxation system—perhaps best known as the Henry review—and the ACT taxation review concluded that general rates is one of the most efficient tax bases available. Under the reforms, the progressivity of the general rates system has been improved to ensure fairness and equity, similar to our nation’s income tax system. In doing so, the formula for the calculation of general rates has been updated, removing the tax-free threshold from the calculation of general rates. This bill is seeking to make amendments to the Rates Act 2004 to remove all reference to the tax-free threshold in the calculation of general rates and the fire and emergency services levy.

The proposed amendments to the Land Tax Act 2004 and the Rates Act 2004 will further the government’s tax reform agenda and help improve the implementation of these important reform measures. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Statute Law Amendment Bill 2013

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.06): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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