In a recent case, the taxpayer sought to argue that vacant land was still residential premises for GST purposes even though there was no structure on the land that could constitute living facilities. One wonders why the taxpayer brought such a case as it would appear to be self-evident that in such circumstances, vacant land could not be residential premises. Of course this is as it turned out to be.

The Court held that there must be an element of shelter and basic living facilities involved in order to satisfy the definition of residential premises. The provisions could not be interpreted on the basis of “potential” to be used as residential premises. The provisions were concerned with “capacity” to be used for that purpose.

However the Court declined to say vacant land could never be residential premise because it was unnecessary for it to make such a ruling although the Court did acknowledge that it was difficult to envisage a scenario in which such a characterisation would be plausible.