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Land Tax

4 May 2021

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:06): My questions are to the Treasurer concerning land tax. I am still receiving several inquiries from people who are yet to receive their 2020-21 land tax notices. Therefore, my questions are:

1. Can the Treasurer provide an update regarding how many owners are yet to receive their land tax notices for 2020-21?

2. Will all owners receive their tax notices with sufficient time to make a payment and claim in their 2020-21 tax return?

3. Given that we are now less than two months from the end of the financial year, what is planned for owners who have not received their land tax notice for payment this financial year?

4. Finally, for those owners wanting to claim a tax deduction in this year's tax return, will they be given the option to pay what they paid last year as full and final settlement, and if this is greater than the actual 2020-21 tax, will a refund, together with interest, be paid?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (16:07): I thank the honourable member for his question and the fact that he did provide me with some early notice so that I could get advice on some of the issues. In relation to the last question, the Commissioner for Taxation has advised me that there are no provisions in the Land Tax Act 1936 to cover circumstances where owners who do not receive their land tax assessment in the financial year can have the option of receiving last year's payment as a full and final settlement, or the sort of circumstances the member outlined as being an option. The commissioner has advised that that is not possible.

In relation to the earlier questions from the honourable member, the commissioner has advised that, for the reasons I have outlined before, there are still a significant number of ownerships yet to receive their land tax assessments. Again, for the reasons I outlined before, the complexity of in particular the trust arrangements have proved to be much more difficult in terms of trying to ensure accurate resolution of the land tax payments of the complicated trust and, in some cases, related company grouping provisions of the act.

The commissioner has indicated that in each year there are a small number of land tax ownerships where the bills are too complicated and have been rolled over into the following year. This year, in my view, it is likely to be significantly greater than that. Whilst the commission and Revenue SA are aiming to get as many done prior to the end of the financial year as they can, it is my judgement that it is likely to be significantly larger than the previous year's experience.

The honourable member has asked, and I think someone else has asked, about the issue of what happens in those circumstances, and I think the Hon. Mr Pangallo, or someone, may have asked a question on an earlier occasion. Clearly, if someone is in the position of being part of the significant majority who will be paying less land tax than under the former arrangements, they may not be as significantly concerned as those who are paying more.

However, irrespective of whether it is less or more, if the late arrival of this year's land tax bill and potentially the on time arrival of next year's land tax bill creates any problems for an individual land tax payer, the commissioner has indicated that they would continue to negotiate with land tax payers, as they have in the past, in relation to sensible deferral or payment options for anyone who believed there would be a significant impact on their financial situation as a result of receiving two lots of bills in a relatively short space of time.

The commissioner's advice is that, whilst it has been a small number in the past where that might have occurred, they have had the power to come to an arrangement where there can be either a time payment or a deferral arrangement in relation to the payment of the next year's land tax bill. As I said, if the circumstances are—as I suspect they might be—that there is a significantly increased number this year, then those same principles would be applied by the commissioner.

Coming back to the first question, which I answered earlier, the commissioner's very strong advice—not surprisingly, given that she says she has no power in relation to tax arrangements, and I'm sure the Hon. Mr Darley would have advised the constituents similarly—is that in these circumstances, in relation to tax deductions and the Australian tax office, the very strong advice is that they take independent tax advice regarding their tax circumstances. I'm sure, knowing the Hon. Mr Darley's background, that he would have already advised his constituents along those lines.

The simple answer to the question is that the commissioner's advice is that she is not in a position, under the Land Tax Act, to undertake the option the honourable member outlined in his question.