Fire services property levy - frequently asked questions
- What is the levy used for?
- How is the levy collected?
- What legislation is the levy based on?
- How do I know how much I am paying?
- How is the levy calculated?
- Why are there different rates for Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority areas?
- How do I pay the levy?
- Are there any concessions?
- What is capital improved value?
- What if I disagree with my capital improved value?
- How is the type of property I own determined?
- If I sell my property, do I get a refund for the portion of the year that I no longer own the property?
- Do businesses pay the levy?
- I am a farmer with multiple land parcels: do I pay the levy on each one?
- Does non-rateable land attract the levy?
- What happens if I cannot pay the levy?
- What happens if a supplementary valuation occurs?
- Does the levy mean I no longer need to insure my home and property?
- Why is the levy charged on vacant land?
It funds the services provided by the Country Fire Authority and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
Prior to 1 July 2013, a fire services levy charge was added onto insurance premiums to recover the cost of insurers’ contributions to the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
Following a recommendation from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, the collection method was changed. From 1 July 2013, the levy was removed from insurance premiums, with property owners contributing via their council rates.
The levy is collected in accordance with the Fire Services Property Levy Act 2012.
The amount of levy you pay is displayed on your council rate notices.
The levy comprises two parts:
- a fixed charge, and
- a variable rate based on the property's:
- classification, and
- capital improved value.
The levy is calculated using the following formula:
Fixed charge + (variable rate x capital improved value ) – concession (if eligible) = Levy
The separate levies recognise the different costs associated with funding each service.
You can pay the levy in the same manner as you pay your rates. This means that you can pay in four instalments. Refer to your council rate notice for more information.
Holders of pensioner concession cards and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Cards (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated and War Widows) receive a concession on their home (principal place of residence). Only one concession applies per property per annum.
Property owners who currently receive a council rate concession in respect of their home (principal place of residence) automatically receive the levy concession.
If you believe you are entitled to a concession and have not received it, please contact your local council.
For more information on Victorian concessions, call the Concessions Information Line on 1800 658 521.
Capital improved value is the value of the land, buildings and any other capital improvements made to the property as determined by the general valuation process. It is displayed on the council rate notice for the property.
You can object to the capital improved value of your property with your local council. Contact your local council for more information on the objection process.
Properties are classified by your local council, based on the existing use of the land, and are given an Australian Valuation Property Classification Code. The type of property affects the fixed charge amount.
If I sell my property, do I get a refund for the portion of the year that I no longer own the property?
No. Similar to council rates, there may be adjustments made at settlement, but this is a matter between the vendor and the purchaser.
All property owners, including businesses, pay the levy when they pay their council rates.
Primary production properties comprising multiple land parcels that are valued as a single property for rates purposes are also treated as a single property for levy purposes.
You can also apply for an exemption from paying more than one fixed charge for a farm property that is a single farm enterprise.
Yes, most non-rateable land attracts the levy.
As they do with rates, councils are able to waive or defer the whole or part of the levy on the grounds of financial hardship. However, a council can only waive or defer payment of the levy if it also waives or defers payment of rates for that property.
If a property owner does not pay the levy, councils are expected to take steps to recover outstanding amounts, which may include charging interest or initiating court action.
When a supplementary valuation occurs, the respective council issues a supplementary rate notice with the adjusted levy amount due as a result of the change in the capital improved value or land type classification. Any payments already made at the time of the supplementary valuation are credited against the payment of the new levy amounts.
No, the levy is not insurance and does not negate the need to have insurance.
Land can present a fire risk even where there are no buildings or structures on that land, so owners of vacant land make a contribution to the fire services for the risk posed by that land.