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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - The Minister has not convinced me that the proposed alteration in relation to valuations is sound. He says that in some parts of Australia there are triennial periods of valuation, whereas in other parts, valuations are made biennially. He argues that it is desirable that there should be a uniform period throughout the Commonwealth. That, however, is not a sufficient reason for altering the existing legislation to provide for triennial valuations. This clause is clear that the. triennial period of \alua- tion shall date from 1st July, 1927. Let us suppose that during the first period of three years many sales of land take place and that the. price of land has gradually risen. Will the Commissioner of Taxation cause the land to be valued each time a sale takes place, or will he call upon the new owners of the land to pay taxation on the increased price paid for it?

Senator McLachlan - The honorable senator should read proposed new section 20 (4).

Senator FINDLEY - The proposed new sub-section provides that the Com-' missioner may "cause the value of . the area or interest or of the respective part into which it has been divided to be altered." It is true that the Commissioner may do these things, but I should like to know whether he will do them. Is it proposed to follow that course?

Senator McLachlan - If not, why is it put in the clause?

Senator FINDLEY - If it is put there for that purpose, why provide for a triennial period? More work will be entailed in making the new assessment and in recording changes of ownership, particularly in respect of city and suburban land, than would be the case with an annual or biennial valuation. Recently a block of land in Melbourne was sold for £200,000. Would the purchaser have to pay tax on that amount? The Minister may say that the price paid for the land will be taken into consideration by the department's valuers when making future assessments. If that course is followed, I have no objection to the clause.

Senator McLachlan - How can any person value land in a city except by comparing it with prices obtained for adjacent land?

Senator FINDLEY - Some lands have not changed hands for many years:

Senator McLachlan - But other land in the same neighborhood may have been sold.

Senator FINDLEY - I have no doubt that the value of Cole's Book Arcade, Melbourne, for taxation purposes, was very much lower than the price actually received. I go further and say that other land in Collins-street, Melbourne, adjacent to Cole's Book Arcade, is also assessed at a lower price per foot than that obtained at the sale. I am not yet satisfied: that taxation is being paid on the price* realized for land. It would be better forthe department to have annual valuations.. Land sales have been held in Melbournerecently, and at their conclusion premiums have been offered to purchasers; by persons anxious to obtain the land.'''

Senator Foll - To meet cases like that, values would have to be re-assessed daily.

Senator FINDLEY - I realize that the departmental officers are desirous of. obtaining as much revenue as they can.

Senator McLachlan - To do what the honorable senator suggests would necessitate a tremendous staff.

Senator FINDLEY - That may be so, but it would pay the department to employ a big staff to get the true values, of land for taxation purposes.

Senator Reid - There are annual valuations in certain of the States.

Senator FINDLEY - I am aware that it is the custom of municipalities to make annual valuations, but up to the present the Taxation Department has not adopted that system. The Government now wishes to extend the period and in future to have triennial valuations. To that I object very strongly, because it will, in my opinion, mean a serious loss of revenue.

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