NSW government to shield itself from its unlawful tax collection

25 November2009

The NSW Government has introduced legislation into parliament to overturn a court decision and increase the tax burden on owners of heritage properties, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that the Valuation of Land Amendment Bill 2009 weakens a key element of the states land tax and council rating scheme designed to protect heritage property owners.


This will impact on the rights of owners of 44,000 heritage properties, Mr Gadiel said.


Most owners of heritage restricted properties are average families, who have no right to demolish the building on their land and erect a new one in its place.


Usually, the requirement to retain an existing building for heritage reasons reduces the development potential of land, and therefore, reduces the true value of the land.


The law currently recognises this and to calculate land tax and council rates heritage affected land must be given a reduced valuation to reflect the limitations on future development.


Since an owner cant demolish a building, its wrong to impose taxes and rates, on the basis that demolition was possible.


These special rules were re-affirmed by three judges of the NSW Court of Appeal in June this year. The court decision also found that the Valuer-General had wrongly assessed the value of heritage properties, leading to excessive tax and rate bills for property owners.


Now the state government wants to overturn the court decision, re-write the rules to disadvantage heritage property owners and excuse up to nine years of unlawful conduct by the Valuer-General, Mr Gadiel said.


The government wants to tax the owners of heritage properties, as if they had the right to demolish the worn existing buildings and build fresh new buildings to modern building standards.


Such buildings would clearly be worth more than most existing heritage protected buildings.


Even when they are well maintained, the materials, finishes and general condition of older buildings usually increase the cost of maintenance and reduce marketability.


The Court of Appeal has made it clear that the existing law requires the Valuer-General to reduce a valuation to take into account the fact that the only building that can be placed on the land will be aged.


Now the government wants the Valuer-General to assume that a heritage property owner is entitled to build an entirely new pristine building, in the place of a heritage structure.


Ordinary families who own a heritage listed home should not be taxed based on a right they do not have.


This will only further reduce the incentives for someone to buy such a heritage property and restore it.


We hope that this legislation is blocked by the opposition and minor parties.


Read our submission here.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $78 billion to the national economy each year and creates 849,000 direct jobs.



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