Tax vacant properties, charity group says

Adam Smith 18 April 2016

tax vacant properties

A new proposal calls on the Victorian government to tax properties left empty.

A charity has called on the Victorian government to boost the supply of affordable housing by levying a tax on properties left vacant for longer than 12 months, The Australian Financial Review has reported. The charity, Launch Housing, argued in a submission to the state government that a tax on vacant housing could raise up to $78 million annually.

According to The AFR, rental affordability for low income earners in Melbourne is worsening in spite of record dwelling approvals. The Victorian government's own rental report indicates affordable lettings, or those which require no more than 30% of income for those in the lowest 40% income bracket, fell to 19% in the December quarter.

Launch Housing CEO Tony Keenan told The Australian Financial Review the group believed taxing properties intentionally left vacant was justified.

"If it's not being used, we think the government is quite justified in intervening. It's [a tax] only levied on owners who make the decision to leave a property vacant. They need to contribute to solving the original problem,” Keenan told The AFR.

But the Property Council of Australia told The AFR the group would see implementation of the proposal as a broken election promise, with the Victorian Labor government having pledged not to introduce any new taxes.

"While the cause may be just, this is about whether the Government keeps its word. The government should rule out this bad idea immediately,” Property Council of Australia Victorian spokesman Asher Judah told The AFR.

The submission comes on the heels of a report late last month claimed up to 90,000 properties were sitting vacant in Sydney's most in-demand suburbs.

Image: Shutterstock

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