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There will also be no specific exemption provided for a tenant occupying a property under the terms of a will. Consistent with the main direction of the new land tax regime, in these cases, if the property is not rented, it will be automatically exempt. This, the Government believes, is a fairer method of imposing land tax liability.
The Bill also provides for land tax to be assessed on a quarterly basis, with liability dates for residential land tax being determined on 1 July, 1 October, 1 January and 1 April. Property which is normally rented but is temporarily vacant on a liability date will continue to be liable unless the vacancy continues past the next liability date. The owner would not be liable for land tax for any quarter in which income was not derived.
Mr Speaker, as part of my Government's commitment to the electorate, the Bill also provides for unimproved land values to remain at 1994 levels during 1995-96, while the review of the ACT’s system of raising revenue from property is being undertaken. Both rates and land tax will be assessed for the 1995-96 financial year using these values. To avoid further unnecessary cost and inconvenience for property owners and the Revenue Office, the Bill proposes that the Commissioner for ACT Revenue's obligation to complete a 1995 annual land revaluation be removed. This will avoid putting taxpayers to the trouble of considering objection and appeal avenues in respect of valuations which, for the coming year, will serve no purpose. Also, as promised, Mr Speaker, the level of rates set in this Bill will keep individual rates bills to the forecast 4 per cent movement in the consumer price index.
A system of staggered billing of rates and land tax charges will be introduced to alleviate congestion at payment centres on payment days arising from the use of common payment dates. The Commissioner for ACT Revenue will divide Canberra into three billing sectors, with the first accounts falling due on 15 August and the second and third sectors being due, respectively, one and two months later. In all, Mr Speaker, these changes go a long way to improving the rates and land tax system. However, I anticipate that further changes will be required, following the outcome of the review.
Debate (on motion by Ms Follett) adjourned.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE TO MEMBERS
Motion (by Mr Humphries) agreed to:
That leave of absence be given to Mr Kaine and Mr Wood for today, 1 June 1995.