High Court on duplication error in land tax assessments

In Commissioner of State Revenue v ACN 005 057 349 Pty Ltd, the High Court ordered the taxpayer to repay amounts refunded by the Victorian Commissioner of State Revenue following a duplication error in the issue of land tax assessments. The High Court held the Victorian Supreme Court - Court of Appeal should not have ordered the Commissioner to issue amended land tax assessments to the taxpayer and repay excess amounts, as the Commissioner did not have this duty under section 19 of the Land Tax Act 1958 (Vic).

Dominant use of land for primary production land tax exemption

Two recent cases have established that future or intended use of land is not relevant ‘use’ for the purposes of the New South Wales (NSW) primary production land tax exemption. However, in the case of proposed property development, the availability of the exemption may depend on the nature and extent of the preparatory work being undertaken on the land at the relevant time.

In Chief Commissioner of State Revenue v Metricon QLD Pty Ltd, the NSW Court of Appeal confirmed the Supreme Court decision that a property developer was entitled to a land tax exemption for primary production as that was the dominant use of the land at the time. Steps that were taken to prepare the property for development at the relevant time did not extend to ‘use’ of the land, as these steps were preparatory to the commencement of a use of the land by means of development by subdivision and sale. This decision confirms a future or intended use of the land does not override a present use for primary production, thus allowing the land tax exemption to apply.

In Leppington Pastoral Co Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue, the Supreme Court of NSW partially confirmed land tax assessments for the relevant years as the Court was not satisfied that the dominant use of the land was for primary production for all relevant years. The land subject to the assessment was originally designated as farmland, but was progressively used for a major residential development.

ACT ‘Barrier Free’ model for collection of stamp duty

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) enacted the Revenue Legislation Amendment Act 2017, which makes extensive amendments to adopt a ‘Barrier Free’ model for the collection of stamp duty. The amendments include: • modifying the timing of the conveyance duty process so that payment occurs after settlement • requiring the registration of dutiable instruments under the Land Titles Act • simplifying and consolidating of exemptions from duty, and • abolishing $20 and $200 nominal duty.

QLD: Ex gratia stamp duty relief for financial institutions 

The Queensland Commissioner of State Revenue has issued public ruling DA000.8.2 regarding ex gratia relief for transfer duty potentially arising in relation to mergers, acquisitions and transfers of assets of financial institutions. The ruling outlines the term of the approved ex gratia relief and has effect from 19 January 2017.