Land tax increases and job losses still planned for 2009

Steve Greenwood | Thursday, 12 March 2009 9:00 AM | Add Comment

The single issue that has surrounded much of the Queensland election debate to date has been the issue of jobs – or rather Queenslanders losing their jobs.

The Queensland property industry is well attuned to the seriousness of the job situation, with the majority of companies over the last 10 months either having had to let staff go, significantly reduce staff hours, or cut back salaries. All companies have significantly cut overheads, are the leanest they have been for years and are keenly focused on strategies to survive these tough economic times.

It is therefore with great deal of disbelief that Queensland’s business community views the current stance by all sides of politics in refusing to rule out tax increases over the next year.

All political parties know that State taxes are planned to increase later this year; however, at this stage in the election they are trying to ignore this ‘elephant in the room’. However, the elephant is starting to smell and they ignore it at their peril.

One of the most regressive of all the State’s taxes, land tax, will increase by over 30% or $253 million dollars in September 2009 if action is not taken.

The combination of the failure by the Government not to revalue properties late in 2008, the 3 year averaging process and the impact of the $93 million surcharge announced in December 2008, will push the total State land tax bill over the $1 billion mark for the first time ever.

This is not a record that any Government should be proud of. And the major political parties are kidding themselves if they think that this tax increase is not going to badly impact on business and the Queensland economy.

ALL Queensland businesses are operating close to the edge – there is no ‘fat’ remaining and they have few reserves to call upon. Further, as we all well know, the banks are not readily doling out money – indeed many are very aggressively clawing back their money.

The $253 million land tax increase will have to be funded from somewhere and for many companies the only way they will be able to do this is by saving on staffing costs. Jobs will be lost if the land tax increase proceeds.

Let’s be very clear – the issue is simply not about the big end of town whinging about increasing taxes. The issue is about jobs pure and simple.

The property industry accepts that it has a role in the Queensland economy and accepts that it should pay its fair share of taxes. Last year we paid $800 million in land tax alone. Indeed we currently pay far more than our share of total State taxes, paying around 43% of the total State tax bill.

In a statement issued on the 12 February 2009 in relation to land valuations, the Premier stated that “now is not the time for tax increases” – and the Property Industry couldn’t agree more.

In a statement issued on 3 March 2009, LNP Leader, Lawrence Springborg stated that “an LNP Government would not raise taxes” – again, the property industry strongly supports this position.

The proposed land tax increase cannot and should not proceed if the political parties are genuinely concerned about job losses. We await their responses.

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Steve Greenwood | Thursday, 12 March 2009 9:00 AM | Add Comment

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