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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 29 November 2018) . . Page.. 5085 ..


The ACT Revenue Office reviews and adjusts property values from time to time to reflect those changes and to take account of the value uplift property owners enjoy as precincts change or land is in higher demand. It is a case of simple market forces in play. I think Canberrans generally accept and understand that if someone’s property rises significantly in value, the rate of land-based taxation should be adjusted accordingly. I do not think our community would feel it was right for owners to entirely pocket a windfall gain off the back of rising values or a lease variation without making some further contribution to the public services that we all rely upon.

Mr Coe may have a particular problem with commercial property owners paying a little more tax when their properties become more valuable, but this is the system working exactly as it should to ensure that we can continue providing high quality services to the standard that Canberrans expect and deserve.

The second of Mr Coe’s misconceptions is that businesses in the ACT pay more tax than their counterparts over the border in New South Wales and that this is disadvantaging local businesses or driving them out to Queanbeyan. He has been making these claims for quite a while now, perhaps in the hope that if he keeps on saying it, the claims will assume the status of fact. But Mr Coe’s opinions are not facts, however much he might like to repeat them.

A quick look at the entirety of taxes that business must pay shows that this is simply not correct. As Mr Coe at least acknowledged in his remarks, commercial rates are just one tax that businesses pay. Other important taxes to take into account include commercial land tax, insurance duties, payroll taxes and stamp duties. As members would be aware, the ACT government has abolished commercial land tax and is phasing out stamp duty, and from this year we have abolished it for commercial property transactions below $1.5 million.

Mr Wall interjecting—

MR BARR: So I repeat: we have abolished commercial stamp duty for property transactions below $1.5 million—

Mr Wall interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Wall, enough is enough!

MR BARR: We also have the highest payroll tax-free threshold in the country, at $2 million. This means that 90 per cent of businesses operating in the territory pay no payroll tax at all. This means that the vast majority of businesses pay less tax in the ACT than they would if they were in New South Wales. For example, a small business with 15 employees and an annual turnover of $1.6 million that rents its premises—for example, a cafe—will pay no local taxes in the ACT but would pay $19,275 annually in New South Wales.

A medium-sized enterprise with an annual turnover of $2.4 million and 20 staff, where the business owns the premises with a property value of $1 million—for


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