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Higher than ever land tax being demanded, but rent still does not need to be paid

Tasmanian community members are now opening their Land Tax bills which are higher than ever – some increasing by up to 46 per cent. Our Association has formally requested that the Tasmanian Treasurer and Premier, Peter Gutwein, urgently reconsider the fairness of this situation given landlords of Tasmanian private rentals still cannot evict due to non-payment of rent.

Back in March the Government removed a property owners’ ability to be paid rent in exchange for housing. This buyer-seller transaction was solely targeted and left property owners forced to accept an IOU – a vague commitment that owners can attempt to recoup the owed rent at some point down the track, but they cannot seek to cover the additional costs that this interference has resulted in, such as the additional compounded interest if the owners was forced to pause mortgage payments as a result.

The Government’s programs that pay the rent for tenants are appreciated but they do not neutralise the frequently devastating effect that the‘no evictions’ moratorium continue to have. To remove the requirement for rent to be paid, but then still demand rental property owners pay their highly inflated land tax bills – issued and payable to the same Government who made is legal for landlords to not be paid for the service provided – is incredibly unjust.

This double-standard sends the message that the Government too fall for the stereotype that rental property owners are wealthy, even when limitless examples of this not being the case exist. Landlords are people and households too; people and households who have also felt the impact of the pandemic through income losses and other challenges. This is another bill that is adding more stress to the everyday people who simply want to be able to financially stand on their own two feet and not be reliant on Government funds, and in doing so, fill a critical gap in the housing offering in between owner-occupied dwellings, public housing and hotels and similar.

The Treasurer and Premier must urgently consider the (lack of) fairness in this situation. The Government has essentially made the deferment of rent, without penalty, an extremely easy option for tenants to take up. And as you are no doubt aware, many hundreds have, including those who do not have a genuine need to do so.

Some of the options that may help bring some balance to this specific situation include reducing land tax fees so they remain at the previous year’s rate, offering a substantial discount on land tax fees when the fee applies to land which is occupied by a rental property, or, at the absolute very least, providing rental property owners with the ability to also have a six-month window to pay their land tax bill without penalty and without the requirement to apply for hardship (without the need to apply for a hardship arrangement). This is only fair.



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