I have a weekender on the South Coast and a home in Sydney. The weekender attracts land tax. Every year in January we receive our land tax bill from the Office of State Revenue (OSR) and we pay it in February, with 2008 being no exception.

On 23rd May 2008 Shoalhaven City Council wrote to me about the risk (hopefully very small) to my land & many others on the coast, of falling into the sea.

On the 27th May the Office of State Revenue wrote to me saying the Valuer General has reassessed the value of my land so I have to pay more land tax for 2008. I am left to think the OSR has panicked & thought, we had better pluck this goose whilst it is still perched overlooking the beach, because, if it falls off the edge they are not likely to get anything more.

I have rung OSR & they are blaming the Valuer General. I am not arguing about the amount (at least not for the moment), just the concept of a retrospective tax.

In January the OSR wrote in their letter “Land Tax in this notice has been assessed for the 2008 Tax Year”, and in May the heading of the letter is exactly the same. On page 4, I read that the second letter replaces the previous notification, because of a valuation change!

There is no guarantee that I will not be hit with another increase by the 31st of December 2008. I bet I won’t hear from the OSR if my house does fall off the cliff onto the beach!

Where is the fairness in all this? Surely the OSR can’t have two bites of the cherry in the same year?

In the OSR’s brochure they state at the outset that “land values are determined as at 1st July each year & reflect property market conditions at that time”.

Any valuation by the Valuer General after that time should purely be applied to the next 1st July, and not be backdated to the previous July. Alternatively, if at 31st December, when the OSR wants to issue land tax notices for the coming year and they have not yet got updated valuations then they should mark the notice as provisional. My first notice was not so marked and it should be allowed to be considered final.

The sneakiest part of the whole exercise is the fact that because of the averaging process this increase will have a double effect on the 2009 assessment.

For any of our readers who have been issued with a similar notice. You have our commiserations.

Comments anybody?

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