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GEN-04-20

The State Taxation Acts Amendment (Relief Measures) Act 2020 received Royal Assent today, 28 April 2020, and introduces various changes, including land transfer duty and payroll tax relief measures for bushfire affected areas as announced in January 2020.

The amended Acts are the Duties Act 2000, First Home Owner Grant Act 2000, Payroll Tax Act 2007, and the Taxation Administration Act 1997, the latter which now gives the Commissioner of State Revenue authority to effect emergency tax relief measures, such as those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tax relief measures for people affected by the Victorian bushfires

Duties Act 2000

The 50% land transfer duty concession on transfers of commercial and industrial land in regional Victoria previously announced and legislated by the Government has been brought forward for transfers of commercial and industrial land in bushfire affected areas.  

The 50% concession applies to transfers where the contract, arrangement or agreement for the transfer was entered into on or after 27 January 2020 for the acquisition of commercial or industrial property in the following bushfire affected local government and alpine resort areas:

  • Alpine Shire Council
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Mansfield Shire Council
  • Towong Shire Council
  • Wangaratta Rural City Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • Mount Buller Alpine Resort
  • Mount Hotham Alpine Resort
  • Mount Stirling Alpine Resort
  • Falls Creek Alpine Resort

There is no limit to the number of times a person can claim this relief, which will be available until 30 June 2023. After this date, a 50% duty concession applies to transfers of commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria.

To qualify, the dutiable property must be wholly in the bushfire affected areas. It must be used solely or primarily for a qualifying commercial or industrial land use for a continuous period of at least 12 months, commencing in the two years following the date of transfer. Its status as commercial or industrial property is determined by reference to the land uses set out in the Australian Valuation Property Classification Codes.

Payroll Tax Act 2007

The payroll tax rate reduction for regional employers previously announced and legislated by the Government has been brought forward for regional employers based in bushfire affected areas. Payroll tax will apply at the reduced rate of 1.2125% effective from 1 July 2019. The reduced rate applies until 30 June 2022. After this date, the reduced rate of 1.2125% will apply to all regional employers across regional Victoria. 

The bushfire affected areas include the following local government and alpine resort areas:

  • Alpine Shire Council
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Mansfield Shire Council
  • Towong Shire Council
  • Wangaratta Rural City Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • Mount Buller Alpine Resort
  • Mount Hotham Alpine Resort
  • Mount Stirling Alpine Resort
  • Falls Creek Alpine Resort

Businesses that pay at least 85% of their payroll to regional employees and whose principal place of business is located in the bushfire affected areas will be eligible for the reduced rate on their entire payroll.

Other amendments

First Home Owner Grant Act 2000

The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) of $20,000 for new home purchases in regional Victoria has been extended to 30 June 2021. This means it is available for contracts entered into between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2021. First home buyers of new homes in metropolitan Melbourne will continue to receive the $10,000 FHOG amount.

The regional FHOG is available to first home buyers who purchase a new home valued up to $750,000 in regional Victoria. The purchased property must be used as their primary place of residence for a continuous period of 12 months, commencing within 12 months of completing the eligible transaction.

Taxation Administration Act 1997

The Taxation Administration Act 1997 was amended to give the Commissioner of State Revenue statutory authority to give effect to emergency tax relief measures at the direction of the Treasurer, and as announced by the State Government. Emergency tax relief measures include the ability to defer, waive or refund a tax liability under a taxation law in full or in part.

The new powers apply to all emergency tax relief measures announced before and after the commencement of the provisions, including the tax relief measures announced by the State Government in relation to COVID-19 on 16 March 2020 and 15 April 2020.

The new provisions also empower the Commissioner to pay refunds of tax when a taxpayer is entitled to emergency tax relief that has been legislated in a taxation law, such as the amendments made to the Payroll Tax Act 2007 and the Duties Act 2000.

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