Land tax victims will get relief
By TOBY WALKER
THE CARR Government's controversial land tax hasn't given landowners much to smile about but 22 property owners in the Clarence Valley should be beaming this week when they get a letter from the Office of State Revenue.
Last week the New South Wales Valuer General admitted 'human error' had led to overstated land valuations in the prized coastal retreats of Minnie Water and Diggers Camp.
A reassessment of the 22 properties initiated in January by the Valuer General was prompted by a number of complaints from people who were hit with land tax bills running into the thousands of dollars.
The revised values will mean the property owners will have their land tax decreased by an average of $2351.
"Anyone who has overpaid their tax because of the change in values will receive a refund as soon as possible," Chief Commissioner of State Revenue, Peter Achterstraat said.
But the reassessments won't be welcomed by all.
Another two property owners were found to have had their land under-valued, leading to an average $1137 increase in their land tax.
Minnie Water property owner Colin Stoner hasn't received a letter yet but is hoping he'll be one of the 22 affected landowners after he was slapped with a $6400 land tax bill for his old fibro house.
Mr Stoner queried the accuracy of his property's valuation after it rocketed up $300,000 in just one year.
In a letter of complaint, he asked the Valuer General how such an estimate could be reached in a year that saw the real estate market take a distinct downturn, particularly in Minnie Water when only two houses sold during the 2003-04 period.
Although Mr Stoner lives in Sydney and uses the Minnie Water home for holidays, he returns regularly with his family, a tradition they've kept since the 1950s when it was known as Wire Fence.
"Having a holiday home has been part of the hard working Australian's dream and many a man from South Grafton or Blacktown has worked six days a week, plus overtime and achieved this for his family," the 67-year-old said in a letter to The Daily Examiner.
Mr Stoner's considerable land tax bill even incited him to voice his concern in a public notice to fellow landholders in Minnie Water.
"Because of this ownership, I am unable to apply for a pension and at age 67, I mow lawns and do gardening to provide a modest lifestyle and pay the bills.
"Last year, my taxable income was $16,400 and you can imagine how I feel when I receive a land tax bill from the Carr Government for $6400."
This week Mr Stoner will find out if he can keep his Australian dream alive.
Property owners in Minnie Water and Diggers Camp with queries about land tax should call the Office of State Revenue on 1300 556 814.