ACT Greens call for tax on vacant properties

The ACT Greens are today calling for an extension of the current land tax system by also taxing vacant investment properties, in the same way as rental properties.

“I believe we need to take clear steps to address the housing affordability crisis. For too long the taxation system has benefitted investors over home owners, contributing to housing stress for many Canberrans—my motion today seeks to address this,” said Caroline Le Couteur MLA, ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee.

“While this unfair system will not be completely corrected until the Australian Government addresses both negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, there’s no reason the ACT Government cannot make progressive land tax reforms like those successfully implemented by other states.

“My motion today calls for the ACT to follow the lead of other Australian states and charge land tax on all properties, with exemptions for principal place of residence and possibly agricultural or charitable use.

 “All state governments in Australia, except the Northern Territory, impose a broader land tax. In most jurisdictions this land tax is based on the total value of all unimproved land owned by an entity, unless it is the principal place of residence. 

 “We cannot have a serious conversation about Australia’s housing affordability crisis without addressing the fundamental drivers that permit, and in fact encourage, owners to leave houses vacant. Unfortunately, we don’t even know if a significant proportion of the Canberra housing market is going to waste through vacancy and my motion calls for more analysis of the current situation.

“This motion is not targeting investors who have a temporarily vacant rental property while they look for a tenant, as they are doing the right thing by keeping their property on the market.  Rather, this motion targets those properties that are lying idle and are not advertised or marketed in any way.

“With this motion, I am calling on Members of ACT Labor and the opposition to support the extension of land tax as one small but important step to improve rental affordability and availability in Canberra, as well as equity in taxation arrangements,” concluded Ms Le Couteur.