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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - The committee should pause before giving its imprimatur to this clause. It should try to realize the loss of revenue that will be involved by having triennial valuations. In another bill the Senate has already agreed to reduce the rate of the land tax by 10 per cent. The Honorary Minister, who moved the second-reading of that bill, said that there would be a corresponding loss in revenue as the result of that reduction, and I pointed out during the debate that an additional loss would be brought, about by the adoption of triennial valuations. I understand that in the first year it would be £80,000 and in the second year £160,000. In the third year, of course, the revaluation would take place, but in the two intervening years we should suffer a loss of £240,000. in addition to the general loss of revenue brought about by the reduction in the rate of the tax. In . moving the secondreading of this bill the Minister did nor advance any valid reason for a departure from a system which has been in operation for seventeen years. During ail those years the commissioner has had power to value land every year or every two years as he saw fit. The Minister did not say that there were not sufficient valuers to- do the work. We know that big areas of land adjacent to cities have been held and then sold at a great profit.. The value of land held in that way may increase considerably in the three years between valuations. Yet not a penny additional tax will be derived from it. In every way we look at this clause we see that the revenue will suffer if it be agreed to. Clause 12 provides for retrospective assessments. At present the Commissioner may go back for two years in reassessing the value of land, whereas in the case of incomes he may go back for three years. It is now proposed to take away that power so far as land tax assessments are concerned. The power of retrospective assessments vested in the Commissioner may enable him to detect attempted evasions of tax. That power will no longer exist if this clause is agreed to. The more I study this clause., the more reasons I discover for voting against it. I shall not support any clause which will reduce the revenue by relieving from taxaton people who can well afford to pay it. When we consider the large amount of revenue derived from the taxation of in comes from personal exertion, and compare it with the, amount received from land taxation, it is evident that to reduce land taxation, particularly in a time of financial stringency such as the present, is a wrong policy to pursue. I shall therefore oppose the clause.

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