The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has affirmed land tax assessments after rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for the principal place of residence (PPR) exemption.

The taxpayer owned 2 properties, one located in Sandringham and the other in Balnarring. Both properties were connected to water, gas and electricity services. The Commissioner issued land tax assessments for the Sandringham property for 2011 to 2015.

The taxpayer claimed the PPR exemption under the Land Tax Act 2005 (Vic) for the Sandringham property on the basis she lived by herself at Sandringham from Monday to Friday and had that property as her address for the purposes of income tax, Medicare and her driver’s licence. In the alternative, she argued that if the Tribunal found that the Sandringham property was not her PPR, the Balnarring property was her PPR on the basis of her occupation of that property during the weekends.

The Tribunal was not satisfied that the taxpayer had resided in either of the properties as her PPR given that the utilities usage was well below the benchmark usage for a 1-person household. It also found that an address supplied for the purpose of income tax, Medicare and her driver’s licence was not probative of the taxpayer’s PPR as residential addresses are not normally verified by relevant authorities in those situations. (Robbins v Comr of State Revenue [2016] VCAT 1265, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Glover M, 1 August 2016.)

[LTN 148, 3/8/16]

FJM Notes on case

  1. The taxpayer said she ‘bought’ the Sandringham property, but later in evidence it was shown that a trustee company bought it and later distributed it to her ‘in-specie’.
  2. She said she’d been separated from her plastic surgeon husband since 1987 but remained a 50% shareholder in his practice company and a director of it.
  3. Between 2009 and 2014 there were 5 quarters when the water consumption was nil and otherwise it was well below the average 1 person household in the area.
  4. Her average annual electricity consumption was 1.3 kWh per day, when the ‘benchmark’ for an equivalent household was 7.4 kWh per day.
  5. Also, the property was listed as for sale for years at a time.
  6. There was something weird going on here and the the Tribunal member held that she had not discharged her onus of showing that the assessment was excessive.