Municipal rates and land tax are an annual charge imposed on some properties and based on the value of those properties, as reassessed every two years. All Victorian properties are in the process of being revalued as at 1 January 2016.

The new values will form the basis upon which you are charged Council Rates, Fire Services Property Levy and Land Tax for a two year period, until the next revaluation in 2018. The 2016/17 Victorian State Budget, released on 27 April 2016, forecasts an increase in land tax revenue of 28.3% as a result of the revaluation. This projection is supported by the Victorian Valuer-General’s annual data and analysis for the 2015 year, which was published in June 2016. This report shows a 9.8 per cent increase in the total value of sales in Victoria between 2014 and 2015. This was driven in particular by industrial sales which recorded an increase in the value of 23.5 per cent. It is, therefore, reasonable to anticipate that many landowners will see significant increases in the value of their properties, particularly in inner city suburbs. Any mistakes or overvaluations could have costly rates and tax implications.

If you receive a Rates Notice and disagree with the value it assigns to your property, you have the right to lodge an objection with the council. However, it is important to act quickly. The objections process is prescribed by the Valuation of Land Act 1960 (Vic) and requires that all objections be lodged within two months of the date stated on the Rates Notice.

The lodging of a valid objection will make it the responsibility of the Valuer-General to make a decision, taking into account the recommendation of the valuer who originally performed the work, as to the true value of the property. Landowners who remain dissatisfied following the decision of the Valuer-General will then have the right to apply to VCAT for review of that decision. The purpose of this process is to ensure that landowners are charged rates on a fair and reasonable basis. However, it is important for landowners to take proactive steps to ensure the process operates correctly.

To be confident that you are not paying rates at an inflated price, we suggest that you review any rates notices you receive without delay to determine whether any change in the valuation of your property is fair and reasonable. Contact us if you would like us to help you with this process, or if you think the values assessed are unreasonable.

This article was written with the assistance of William Francis, Law Graduate.